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:
- Impacts of agriculture to Gaston County’s economy
- Challenges facing agriculture
- Opportunities for enhancing agriculture in the county
Section 6 recommends steps to ensure a viable agricultural community:
- 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
- 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.