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Why Saving Farmland Is So Important

Why Saving Farmland Is So Important

As a farm writer, when I write about our farmers and how the loss of farmland affects them, people often ask me, “What’s so important about saving farmland?”

Of course there is the obvious reason; without local farms, there’s no local food, or, as the American Farmland Trust (AFT) puts it: “No Farms, No Food.” AFT is a nonprofit membership organization created in 1980 by a group of farmers and conservationists that is “committed to protecting the nation’s best farm and ranch land and improving the economic viability of agriculture.”

The work of the American Farmland Trust points to several reasons why saving our farmland is so important. They not only work to preserve farmland but, to promote community and small family farms, protect local food systems, promote sound stewardship, and preserve water and soil quality.

Promoting community and small family farms and farmland enhances the quality of life in communities, both in rural and urban areas. How so? Here are just a few reasons why preserving them is so important.

Farmland is green space, even though most people don’t think of it that way. It is a significant contributor to environmental quality. As AFT states, “Farm and ranch lands provide food and cover for wildlife, help control flooding, protect wetlands and watersheds, and maintain air quality. They can absorb and filter wastewater and provide groundwater recharge. New energy crops even have the potential to replace fossil fuels.”

And, as I have written about here on Care2, there’s even a group of farmers dedicated to this, The Wild Farm Alliance that is preserving open space for wildlife and species by promoting healthy, viable agriculture that helps protect and restore wild nature.

Farmland is critical to protecting and promoting regional food systems programs. More and more regions and urban areas are looking to create local food systems, and want to ensure there is a source of high-quality, healthy food. Not only does supporting local farms provide this, but it also provides a stable and higher paying market for these growers and decreases costs for consumers by decreasing marketing costs by farmers.

Farmland provides fiscal stability to local governments and boosts the economy. It does this by contributing to a community’s infrastructure and helps a local economy through sales, job creation, and support services or businesses.

One of the most unique of these support services is tourism, or more specifically, agri-tourism. There are plenty of places that people visit to see rural scenery or to enjoy the food or drink of a specific region including the wineries in California’s Napa Valley, or popular farm stays like those found in Italy, and increasingly, here in the United States.

In the next couple of weeks, I will outline some specific agri-tourism regions and destinations, as well as some other ways that you can help support and save our nation’s farmland. To get you started, check AFT’s preservation page for some ways to get involved.

Read more: Conscious Consumer, Food, Nature, Nature & Wildlife, , , , ,

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Judi Gerber

Judi Gerber is a University of California Master Gardener with a certificate in Horticultural Therapy. She writes about sustainable farming, local foods, and organic gardening for multiple magazines. Her book Farming in Torrance and the South Bay was released in September 2008.

85 comments

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8:22AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Family farms are very important to the future, especially when it is mainly organic. Once the land is lost it is often difficult to reclaim especially if covered in asphalt!

6:36AM PST on Feb 14, 2012

After clean air and potable water, fertile soil is the basis for our modern lives. But every year more and more acres are degraded by man's agronomic practices threatening food security.
Sprays, artifical petrobased fertilizers, salinity, alkalinity are all threats to soil fertility. Urban sprawl cobbles up thousands of valuable acres of ariable farmland. We must learn to treat soil as an invaluable resource we cannot live without!

12:31PM PST on Feb 11, 2012

It is great to see the wider implications of good farming supported. We need to have a variety of ways of helping our natural environment survive human impacts on it. Even small things like bringing back community gardens and school gardens makes a positive change, both to the environment and to the people in the area. Some of the community gardens (a few of which are in nooks of abandoned area in cities) are reported on regularly on garden programmes. There are some very successful ones developing here in Australia and the school ones include cooking classes using the produce grown, so the children can understand more about the life cycle of foods we eat. There is at least one in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, where indigenous children are learning to grow and cook their own foods - as one of the elders says "To get them off that diet of fast foods." So even in remote area, fast foods are having a devastating effect on the health of young people especially.

11:59AM PST on Nov 30, 2010

I would love to turn our land into organic farming, but is so expensive to get started. Can you give me any pointers in the right direction? Thank you

2:44AM PDT on Aug 18, 2010

thanks

2:42AM PDT on Aug 18, 2010

thanks

10:00AM PDT on Aug 14, 2010

Why are farmlands so important? The answer to that is very simple. We need to eat, don't we?

We all need to learn to respect the family farm and the family farmer. They have been given short shrift for much, much too long. Apart from that, the family farmer actually DOES care about the quality of his/her product, unlike big agri-business, where profit is god.

9:57AM PDT on Aug 14, 2010

Why are farmlands so important? The answer to that is very simple. We need to eat, don't we?

We all need to learn to respect the family farm and the family farmer. They have been given short shrift for much, much too long. Apart from that, the family farmer actually DOES care about the quality of his/her product, unlike big agri-business, where profit is god.

5:16PM PDT on Aug 10, 2010

thk u for info. it all needs saving.

3:02AM PDT on Aug 10, 2010

Thanks for the article.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Sounds great. Will give it a try. I do love rice.

Thanks for the post.

I will do my part in trying to save these enchanting fireflies

Forwarded to those who need to see this and are interested. Thanks for posting

Judith S. ... what's the breed name? Thanks.

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