Since 2019 we started a sequence of facilitated workshops, individual and collective interviews, involving more than 100 participants.
The invitation selected participants with a shared common intent of caring for the land.
As a method, we have adopted a sociological interviews based research.
The workshops and collective interviews were semi-structured following participatory methodologies. The workshops started with a presentation of the concepts and an open co-creative session where the concepts were used as navigation tools.
All interviews were recorded, transcript and analysed resulting in the key learnings now presented.
The intension of the Regenerative Land Trust Fund started while facilitating a sequence of sessions on alternative finance for agricultural entrepreneurship.
The workshops gathered more that 30 entrepreneurs, with a deep relation with land and place. The main perplexity resulted from the gap between the "absolutely right" actions entrepreneurs agreed need to be made to address climate changes and the inability to find adequate financing solutions to support such projects.
This started a search for alternative solutions, informed by the following initial questions:
The workshop sessions had immediate consequences, shaping the concepts into the present maturity level, expanding and depending them. The first questions was on the common understanding of regeneration, whose findings are available in the following infographic.
While some participants have a solid, even spiritual understanding of regeneration, others associate regeneration with a particular set of skills of methods of "handling land".
If the regenerative land trust fund is to succeed, regeneration needs to be understood in all its dimensions, away from an anthropocentric view.
Land ownership is vested in complex relationships, for some of the participants, land was a legacy present from generations before, the result of many struggles, linked to personal family history and heritage. The idea of ownership loss, in such context, is scary, even if the intensions of protecting the land are a central and fundamental value.
Any solution presented needs to encompass such complexities. The relation with land shifted from interdependency and sacredness present in first nations, and many indigenous cultures up to today, to an objectified relation where land is sold and trade as any object or good.
The collected testimonials revealed that the most successful regenerators have a primordial interdependent and even sacred relation with land. In fact, developing such relationship, is not a goal or a pre-requirement but truly the result of the process of caring for the land.
Many participants had the intent of securing the land via a societally structure, protecting it from the potential miss usage of future generations. The idea of the "trust", once understood, was accepted as a principle but create three reactions:
There is not trust figure on the portuguese law. The definition of trust is a pivotal point. The new trust structure needs to be perceived and designed as a common good. Our learning points out that this structure is the second most important aspect the project needs to define.
The interviews revealed that the idea of a "new" power structure, distant from the present ownership structures, is possible one of the most critical barriers to overcome.
The most revealing aspect of our research was related with the gap between real-estate evaluation and the true value of land for both revealed by the interviewers or resulting from a natural ecosystem potential.
As an example: a terra-plain land can have higher economical value than an equivalent rich with biodiversity. The reason being the potential and readiness for intensive farming usage.