Photo courtesy of Earthseed Land Cooperative.
Location: Durham, North Carolina
Years in Business: <1 year
NCIF Role: Acquisition loan
Sector: Eco-Tourism, Health and Community Services 
Partners: Triangle Land Conservancy

The eight co-founders of Earthseed Land Cooperative (ELC) have a vision: to use land to support the collective health, wealth and environmental sustainability of diverse communities in Durham, North Carolina. 

The Opportunity

ELC was founded to serve as a resource to people of color in the region, providing a stable home for small land­based rural businesses and community-based organizations, as well as space to appreciate nature and engage in outdoor recreation.  In early 2016, the group took a big first step toward realizing this vision, purchasing a 12-acre parcel of land in rural Durham County that included two residential homes and several outbuildings suitable for housing small businesses and community organizations.

But their vision was bigger still, and they had their eyes on an adjacent 36 acres of land ideal for walking trails, outdoor recreation and events, a retreat center, and, eventually, housing for the coop’s members. 

The Deal

Earthseed needed creative financing to make it happen, so they turned to Natural Capital Investment Fund for a loan and to the Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC) to secure grant funding from a City of Raleigh water quality protection program for a conservation easement. TLC structured an easement on 33 of the 36 acres to protect the water quality, habitat and agricultural and wooded nature of the property, while permitting the Cooperative to pursue appropriate uses of the land.  

With the loan and grant funding from the easement, Earthseed completed its purchase in November, 2016 and now can serve as a home for outdoor education classes, weddings, small farms, and more, all while creating a vital community and business incubator for people of color. 

Impact

Earthseed’s holistic approach to supporting land-based enterprises is good for people, the economy and the environment in north Durham. ELC is already hard at work providing opportunities for the community, including converting a barn into a community gathering space, opening a community kitchen, creating an art studio, and much more.

We have a unique vision for Earthseed and our commitment to serving our communities. Together, our members have the collective will and determination to make it happen, but we needed help to arrange the financing and protect the land for future generations. We were fortunate to find organizations like NCIF and TLC who appreciated our approach and shared our vision.
- Tahz Walker, Earthseed Cooperative member

Visit the Earthseed Land Cooperative website