Living Lands Trust, established in 2000 as Yggdrasil Land Foundation, was created so that land and buildings could be perpetually held to carry out our founding mission of caring for nature and people through regenerative land stewardship. Biodynamic farming and other regenerative land stewardship practices ensure that healthy, place-based enterprises can thrive across generations.
Living Lands Trust was established in 2000 as Yggdrasil (ig-drǝ-sil) Land Foundation, but our story begins two decades earlier. Founders Martina and Christopher Mann uprooted their lives in Switzerland to pursue a vision of nurturing biodynamic farming and agrarian culture in the United States. This impulse was buoyed by a deep and abiding wish to create places that would nourish people, community and the earth–places "where the human spirit will flourish."
In 1981, the Manns purchased their first parcel of farmland in southeastern Wisconsin near old family friends, and began working with young farmers to create change in a world that increasingly felt as though, in Martina's words, “one could not breathe freely anymore, as if all joy, hope for the future, health and beauty of the earth were gradually [being] destroyed."
Today, Living Lands Trust holds land and buildings in four regions of the United States—southeastern Wisconsin, northern California, southern New Hampshire and north-central Texas—totaling more than 2,400 acres. This land is stewarded for social, ecological and local economic benefit.
Living Lands Trust protects and stewards lands and places that ennoble the human being and the earth. Such places, including farms, ranches, buildings, other sites and lands, are the sanctuaries of the future and serve as sources of physical, soul and spiritual nourishment. Further, Living Lands recognizes that access to land and creative spaces is part of developing a more just and inspiring world.
We envision vibrant human communities that are nourished, physically and spiritually, by the land.
In turn, communities steward and restore the health of soil, water, air and the web of life. Reciprocity, inquiry and adaptive practices are the hallmark of resilient lands and cultures. Places of sanctuary—not for escape or exclusion from others, but for connection to the more-than-human world, seasonal rhythms, communal gathering and the wholeness and interdependence of life—compel a sense of the eternal, and responsibility to those yet to come.
These places are looked after for the common good, freed from speculative ownership and spiraling real estate markets. There is just access to healthy places for all, and the livelihoods derived from regenerative stewardship and associated enterprises are the foundation to thriving regional economies.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Racial Justice
At Living Lands Trust, we hold deeply that diversity is intrinsic to life and a marker of health and resilience in natural and human communities at all scales and in all forms. We humbly acknowledge the violent displacement of people and cultures on which the United States is founded. Racism is historically embedded in our land and property law, and the continuing injustices experienced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color today are wrongful and degrading to our society. We also acknowledge our own apparent shortcomings, and the work we have yet to do to realize the beauty and health of a truly diverse organization. We are committed to listening, learning and continually striving to actualize land justice, equity and inclusion in who we are and the work we do.
The guiding principles of Living Lands Trust inform everything we do.