Terre de Liens

Short Summary

Terre de Liens' (TdL) mission is to "decommodify land in perpetuity" and experiment with new ways of managing land. The French organization helps farmers to locate land and cultivate it organically, purchasing land using civic donations and so-called "solidarity savings."

Website address: terredeliens.org

Location: France

Logo. source


Farms are purchased, owned and supported by TdL. They are located in all regions of France, and are diverse in size and in production: vegetables, dairy products, cereals, fruit, pigs, poultry, sheep, beer, honey, etc. Almost all farms market their products locally (through farm shops, local markets, or caterers, or as part of community-supported agriculture). Many also process food, or offer training/education or agro-tourism services.

The fundamental premise of Terre de Liens is that the value of farmland lies in its contribution to food production, lasting ecosystems and human life. So when people invest in the group’s farmland, they choose not to make a profit. Technically, they are shareholders of a private company, but practically, they know that the land will not be sold back as long as Terre de Liens continues to exist. (Rioufol/Wartena 2015 a)

While Terre de Liens is a multi-faceted organization, it is not a federation. Rather, it is composed of several entities and three different legal forms:

  1. Not-for-profit associations: one national-level and 19 regional associations (as of 2017). They are united by a founding charter and governance ties.
  2. La Foncière, a private company (Ltd).
  3. A land trust called La Fondation, which collects donations in cash or in kind from individuals, companies (patronage) and public authorities.

Tierre de Liens in numbers (as of 2017):

  • Over 12,000 citizens involved, with even broader impact via awareness-raising activities
  • Over €43 million raised (€41 million in investment and €2 million in donations)
  • 150 farmers established or maintained on 110 farms (partially or fully) owned by Terre de Liens; about 1000 (future) farmers each year advised and supported
  • Local work in all 20 regions of France
  • 2500 hectares of farmland preserved "to remain in organic and peasant farming in perpetuity"

YOUTUBE b3ZKL1IkYmU Terre de Liens explained in a minute (French)

Terre de Liens Farms in 2017 source

Friends & Partners

  • TdL is a member of the Access to Land Coalition, a network that brings together grassroots organizations across Europe to share experiences and promote the importance of land access for generational renewal and agro-ecological transition


The most important shared resource, the land, is purchased with donations and savings. That is, "still in capitalist ways," as Rioufol and Warteny write, but with money free from economic interests. The land is then taken out of the market and legally protected as commons.

Land is acquired with donations and savings and then rented to established or future farmers in the long run on the condition of their responsible stewardship of the natural resources, land, landscapes and buildings. In other words, the farmer doesn't enjoy full individual property rights, but long-term leasing rights. It is similar to a trust.

The savings are collected by La Foncière; those who support TdL's goals can acquire shares of €103.59. It then buys agricultural land and buildings, which are rented out to farmers on long-term leases.

"[Shareholders receive] no financial dividends. At best, they may have an inflation-based re-evaluation of the value of their shares at some point, and may qualify for income tax rebate, on a limited scale. The benefits that investors seek are nonfinancial ones: direct connection to a farm, good local food, fertile soils and biodiversity, preservation of a local activity and a sense of belonging." (Rioufol/Wartena 2015 a)

Origin Story

TdL began 2003 with the convergence of individuals with backgrounds in people’s education, organic and biodynamic agriculture, ethical finance, solidarity-based economies and rural development.