Five years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a Census of Agriculture report painting a grim picture of local farms, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported Saturday. Between 2002-07, the 23 westernmost counties of North Carolina lost 679 farms, or 6 percent of the previous total of just over 11,300.
But the recently released 2012 Census of Agriculture tells a completely different story. In the last five years, the WNC farm landscape has undergone a visible and dramatic transformation, with local food sales showing significant growth.
The data show WNC has reversed the trend of loss of farm acreage, adding more than 10,000 acres between 2007-12, even as the rest of the state and country lost farmland.
Of 2,879 farms selling direct to retail in the state, 678 are in WNC. That’s one farm for every 1,644 people, compared to one farm to every 4,429 in the rest of the state, and one farm to every 6,401 in the country.