Owning land on behalf of the community
to provide a more secure future
Ensuring affordable access to land for homes, farms and businesses is an essential element of sustainable community. The Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires maintains affordable access to land. By owning land on behalf of the community, the Community Land Trust can oversee the sale and resale of land critical to our food security, affordable housing and local economy. Community ownership of land is a tool for building a more secure future.
The Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires was established in 1980. It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the common good and general welfare of the community. The organization creates long-term lease agreements to serve community goals, and leases community-owned land to local residents. The lease agreements are public documents specifying the requirements of the community, for example, that occupants must be fulltime residents, that land must be managed using organic practices, or that the occupant of the house must farm the land.
The Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires collaborates with conservation land trusts, which provide good tools for community land use planning. Conservation land trusts have the capacity to purchase easements on land that prevent its future development. However, these easements do not control land values, and the cost of housing on conserved properties can continue to rise. Farmers in particular are at risk of being priced off of living on the very land that is preserved for agriculture. By purchasing the land under a farmhouse and placing it in trust in perpetuity, the Community Land Trust can remove this cost to the farmer, and ensure that the use of farmland will always remain affordable for active production.
The Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires currently owns three parcels of land with a total of 23 residential leaseholds and an agricultural lease:
Forest Row (18 leases)
A residential community in the heart of Great Barrington. The 21-acre property includes a large portion of undeveloped woodland that contributes significantly to the ecological health of the community.
It is an example of how first-time homebuyers, local residents, and the professional community working together can create permanently affordable homeownership opportunities in the region without relying on government subsidy programs.
Indian Line Farm (1 lease)
An active 17-acre organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm that includes sensitive wetland areas that are permanently preserved. The Community Land Trust has partnered with the farmers to address the critical connections between ecology, economy, and community, protecting habitat, preserving agricultural property, and keeping small-scale, organic farming viable.
Alvastra (5 leases)
Located on the north slope of Jug End Mountain. It includes four residences and the Schumacher Center for a New Economics office and research library, surrounded by an apple orchard established in 1925.