The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy got $43,000 in grants to help farmers In Sandy Mush, Fairview & Spring Creek.
The Janirve Foundation awarded $18,000 for SAHC’s Farmland Preservation Initiative, which has already protected over 3,000 acres of working farms in Buncombe, Madison and Haywood Counties. The Janirve grant will enable SAHC to reach out to additional farmers in agricultural communities such as Sandy Mush, Fairview and Spring Creek, and complete conservation easements on farms in those communities.
The Pigeon River Fund has awarded SAHC a $25,000 grant to support the organization working with farmers in the Spring Creek community in Madison County. The objective of this focused effort is to secure conservation easements that protect and improve water quality in Spring Creek and its tributaries.
Protecting working farms now is critical, say SAHC representatives, because farmland is disappearing in Western North Carolina at an alarming rate: In the last two decades, North Carolina has lost 2.37 million acres of crop and forest land due to intense real estate development. In the span of five years from 2002 to 2007, Buncombe County alone lost 10 percent of its farms to development and 24 percent of its farmland acreage.
“We are pursuing this initiative in order to work with outstanding family farms in the region now before the opportunity is lost, and help families preserve their farms for future generations,” said Carl Silverstein, SAHC executive director. “These farms play a central role in the visual and cultural landscape of our region, which is key to economic development. Retaining places to grow food locally is also important.”
For more information, visit www.sahc.org
— Margaret Williams, associate editor