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Marin Agricultural Land Trust

The Marin Agricultural Land Trust was co-founded by Phyllis Faber and Ellen Straus

In the early 1970s, development plans for the Tomales Bay region posed a threat to the long tradition of family farming. Two early environmentalists, Phyllis Faber and Albert Straus’ mother Ellen Straus decided to fight and co-founded the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), with the idea of protecting farmland and natural resources for generations to come. The land trust protects farmland through the acquisition of conservation easements, which is a voluntary transaction between the trust and the landowners.

MALT has succeeded in permanently preserving more than 48,000 acres of farmland on 78 family farms and ranches that might otherwise have been sold or developed. MALT was the first agricultural land trust in the nation and serves as an inspiration and model for many other land trusts which have been created since. “We felt MALT was an opportunity to be part of something really important to the future of Marin County,” said Ellen Straus. The spirit of Ellen Straus’ early environmental efforts laid the foundation and is carried on to this day in Straus Family Creamery’s many sustainability programs.