Sunday, February 7, 2010

We're All Commonwealthy

All 31 acres of Troy Gardens are owned as a commons. Affordable co-housing is on the lower right, community gardens are on the lower left, the CSA farm is in the upper right, and native prairie/woodlands in the upper left. (Source: Madison Area Community Land Trust)

In Madison, Wisconsin, Troy Gardens is a shining example of the vital role that community land trusts can play in taking land off the speculative market and holding it in trust for community a Commonwealth...and avoiding the fate of unsecured community assets such as South Central Farm.

What started as a struggle to maintain community garden plots threatened by the sale of State-owned land in the mid-1990’s has blossomed into a leading example of green urban design incorporating affordable housing, food security, and community-based land tenure. Greg Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Madison Area Community Land Trust, describes the 31-acre site as a community asset combining:
- 30 green-designed, affordable, privately-owned homes in a cohousing community on 5 acres (16%) of the land with its own stop on the city bus line to downtown Madison
- 26 acres (84%) of the land devoted to urban agriculture, including: over 200 community garden plots for neighborhood residents; a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm with a farm stand and educational programs for school children; and native prairie and woodland edges with extensive edible landscape plantings.

Homeowners at Troy Gardens pay an affordable ground lease on the common land, which benefits them and the surrounding neighborhoods. The Land Trust holds title to all of the land, and a separate conservation land trust holds a conservation easement protecting the open land from future development. Any urban or rural area can benefit in this way by creating a Community Land Trust. (

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