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Outline of the 2009 Farmland Protection Plan

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The 2009 Farmland Protection Plan was approved by the Gaston Board of Commissioners following community engagement with over 100 farm families and review by the QNRC and Soil & Water Boards.

First five sections provide information on:

  1. Impacts of agriculture to Gaston County’s economy
  2. Challenges facing agriculture
  3. Opportunities for enhancing agriculture in the county

Section 6 recommends steps to ensure a viable agricultural community:

  1. Strengthen Farm Viability and Ag Economy
  • Establish a business development program specifically targeted at agricultural businesses
  • Support Farm Operations and the Right to Farm
  • Farmers work with county departments to resolve issues, for example the operation of roadside stands
  1. Protect Farmland as a Valuable Natural Resource
  • Provide technical assistance on farmland protection initiatives and conservation options
  • Foster Greater Recognition & Public Support for Agriculture
  • Foster greater appreciation for agriculture among government officials and non-farm residents through education and outreach

Outcomes of the 2009 Plan:

While the 2009 plan did not include specific goals, Gaston County departments did take steps to achieve the following steps

  • N.C. Cooperative Extension has held two NC Farm Schools which assisted in developing business plans for 24 new farm enterprises in the County.
  • N.C. Cooperative Extension has held annual Home Grown Gaston and Somethin’ Pumpkin event to raise public awareness of Gaston County agriculture
  • N.C. Cooperative Extension and Travel & Tourism have collaborated to promote Gaston County Farmers Markets and local farms, including use of the Visit NC Farms App.
  • The Natural Resources Department enrolled over 6600 acres into Voluntary Agriculture Districts including 41 farms entering the new Enhanced Voluntary Agriculture District.
  • Gaston EDC included an Agriculture position on their board and recently recruited GNT Food Coloring which has potential to by local produce
  • N.C. Cooperative Extension secured a grant to conduct a study on the feasibility of a Gaston County produce aggregation center
  • Gaston County DHHS secured grant funding to accept SNAP benefits at local farmers markets.
  • N.C. Cooperative Extension established school gardening programs at seven Gaston elementary schools and secured Gaston Farm Bureau donations to send 15 Gaston County students to the NC State University Horticulture Institute.