March 11, 2009
Ask area residents and visitors their opinions on the value of Western North Carolina farmland and you'll get plenty of answers. Top three greatest benefits? Locally produced food, scenic beauty, and jobs for farmers. Greatest concern? Development of farmland for non-farm use. Would they pay to preserve farmland? Yes. How much? Between $184 and $195 a year.
These are some of the findings of an innovative three-year study of farmland values just completed by UNC Asheville economist Leah Greden Mathews. The study, the first of its kind in the nation, looked beyond the agricultural value of farm to help establish the full value of rapidly disappearing farmland in Buncombe, Madison, Haywood and Henderson counties.
Mathews will present the Farmland Values Project findings, by county, at four upcoming public meetings:
-- Haywood County results, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 19, Haywood County Cooperative Extension Center Auditorium, Waynesville
-- Buncombe County results, 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 26, UNC Asheville's Reuter Center, rooms 102 A and B, located just above Justice Center on campus
-- Henderson County results, 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 2, Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center, 455 Research Dr., Mills River
-- Madison County results, 7-8:30 pm. Thursday, April 9, Madison County Cooperative Extension Center Auditorium, Marshall
Mathews began the study in 2005 with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. Since that time, she and her team have surveyed hundreds of area residents and visitors, compiled and analyzed data and built an interactive Web site that farmers, rural communities and policymakers can use to better understand the different values that people have for farmland in this region.
For more information, visit www.unca.edu/farmlandvalues or contact Mathews at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828.251.6562.