Kingston Land Trust Launches Online Land Matching Portal to Connect Residents with Underutilized Land in their Neighborhoods
(KINGSTON, NY) — The Kingston Land Trust (KLT) has launched an online resource that allows residents in and around Kingston to make use of underutilized private and public land. Through the website portal, approved stewards (people seeking land) and landholders (people who own or manage land and are seeking stewards) can search for each other based on location and shared land use interests. Land listings and steward profiles include contact information and details only viewable by approved portal users, who can then get in touch with each other to discuss a mutually beneficial land use arrangement. Land listings can range from a corner of a residential yard to an entire agricultural field. The KLT envisions that the portal will lead to a wide variety of land uses that have a public and environmental benefit, such as gardening, farming, community gatherings, wellness activities, foraging, ecological land management, outdoor classrooms and playspaces.
“Kingston and its surrounding area is an interesting mosaic of urban, suburban, and rural environments, which means there is an abundance and diversity of both human and land resources. Not everyone has access to land, however. I think there are a lot of people here, whether they are new arrivals or their families have lived here for generations, who want to find cooperative ways to use and improve green space in a way that is harmonious with the natural environment. There is still a tendency toward separation from the land and from each other, though, and I hope the Land Matching Portal will help encourage re-engagement,” says KLT Conservation Coordinator Greg Shaheen, who grew up in Kerhonkson but now lives in the Rondout neighborhood of Kingston.
The land matching concept is not new to the Hudson Valley, as the Columbia Land Conservancy and Dutchess Land Conservancy’s Farmer Landowner Matching Program and Hudson Valley Farmlink Network’s Hudson Valley Farmland Finder offer platforms for farmers to buy or lease available land. The KLT Land Matching Portal distinguishes itself by being geared toward more localized sharing for multiple uses and at no cost, and is more likely to include urban and small parcels. The goal of the KLT portal is to provide equitable land access and a more connected community, as well as to foster beautification, productivity and ecological integrity of land in and around Kingston.
This portal was developed in response to consistent inquiries from community members who had heard about the KLT’s South Pine Street Farm and were seeking additional land available for urban farming. The KLT’s South Pine Street Farm, founded in 2010, is in fact the original land match on which this program was built: Binnewater Ice Co. leases a plot of land for a dollar to the KLT, which in turn sublets it to farmers who provide affordable produce to the neighborhood.
Kingston local Jimmy Buff, who has listed the lower yard of his home in Uptown Kingston on the Land Matching Portal, says, "Open-access land in a city like Kingston is essential to a thriving community and we're happy to participate in the Land Matching program. Inspired by the YMCA Farm Project and the KLT’s South Pine Street City Farm, our hope is that some organic goodness comes from the use of the land, both in produce and in life experience."
In the portal, a landholder profile can be filled out not only by someone who either owns land or has permission to sublet leased land, but also by coordinators of community gardens. “I hope the Land Matching Portal will help increase awareness about the YMCA community garden and attract people who want to reserve a bed or perhaps offer services such as teaching a class on a particular gardening skill. It also informs portal users that there is an open space with a picnic table that can serve as a nice place for neighborhood residents to convene and admire the garden and Kingston YMCA Farm Project. Just as the YMCA is a community space, so is the land around it!” says Ed Blouin, coordinator of the YMCA Community Garden.
Michele Muller, Midtown resident who helped start the Liberty Street Garden has created a steward profile on the Land Matching Portal with hopes to connect with a landholder. “The Liberty Street Garden has had such a positive impact on the neighborhood, with kids and families getting involved in growing their own food. I received a grant to expand on this project by planting a pollinator garden of native plants to teach the relationship between pollinators and growing food, but I am still looking for a piece of land to plant on that is within a block or two of the intersection of Clinton and Franklin”.
The user-friendly Land Matching Portal, built by local website developer Shannah White, can be accessed at kingstonlandtrust.org/initiatives/land-matching
The Kingston Land Trust is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that protects, creates access to, and activates land for the common good in and around Kingston, NY.
Underused lot in Kingston that is listed on the Land Matching Portal and seeking one to three stewards.
Volunteer workday at South Pine St City Farm, the KLT’s original land match on which the program is based.