Metro-farming in north Carrboro?

One point that caught my attention in last Saturday's meeting to discuss Carrboro's Northern Study Area was the idea of "metro-farming". The current plan includes:

ENCOURAGE “METRO-FARMING”: Encourage the conservation of active farmland within new conservation subdivisions and elsewhere in the Study Area, with emphasis on nontraditional crops or uses (high-value vegetables, pick-your-own berries, apples, etc.) and community-supported agriculture (community gardening, wholesale nurseries, commercial stables, etc.). Metro-farming should be promoted by a special committee that would look into ways to make Use Value Assessments more common and frequently applied.

Yet this is an idea which has not yet been realized. With changing patterns of food consumption and agriculture, the availability of arable land available for small scale agriculture will become increasingly important in the future.

If seems that there are several key areas to be addressed to make this option available and to facilitate its use in Carrboro, given that we already require 40% open space to be preserved:
1) The Land Use Ordinance and/or planning review measures that encourage/require developers to identify appropriate open space sites that could accommodate agricultural use (Harvey Harmon of Beaver Creek, who set up the sustainable farming program at CCCC would be a good resource on this); guidance for developers on how to design open space that can accommodate either metro-farming or a more traditional "use".
2) measures to ensure that the potential for metro-farming is not curtailed; e.g. that HOA documents do not affect it (language in the LUO already speaks to HOA responsibilities vis-a-vis open space); or perhaps permitting restrictions attached to that portion of the property; (there are a number of measures for protecting farmland laid out in Land for Tomorrow's Saving the Goodliest Land report, pg 19); etc.
3) develop boilerplate documents for HOA/farmer agreements. These would spell out benefits to HOA (minimally potential reduced costs for maintenance of open space), a minimal time frame that would be meaningful to a farmer, provisions such as storage areas for farmer's use, access to area by homeowners, possible provision of CSA for residents, etc. It is also possible that the open-space/metro-farming area could be deeded to the town or to a stewardship agency that would oversee its use.
4) once metro-farming areas are established, set up resources within the economic development department to match interested farmers with sites much as we do with commercial uses.

This is an important and exciting concept which we will be discussing further in Carrboro. There are many who might enjoy living with organic farming in their midst, especially if it could be coupled with a CSA and possibly with community gardening space and experienced, knowledgable farmers coming around.



Ambitious and embraceable. Keep this initiative on the front burner, Dan.

I think that the rocky future that lies ahead (dramatic weather, high energy costs, related economic uncertainty) will be much easier to navigate by regions that have a good foundation for local food production. We are fortunate that our region is ahead of the curve on this. We will benefit in a myriad of ways by expanding our ability to produce our own food. This initiative deserves support and enhancement.

I don't suppose Carrboro does the whole tax value reduction thing for agricultural land does it? Out in the county it can make a really big difference.

Would this likely apply only to regular foodstuffs, or anything that would come to local markets, etc? I'm wondering about potentially nonedible cash crops (I know there's a lavender farm somewhere in the county for example) that can be done profitably on a small scale.

I must say that this certainly sounds like one of those great ideas that gives Carrboro an excellent reputation.

This morning I enjoyed delicious sausage from Cane Creek Farm that I purchased last week at the Carrboro Farmer's market. After reading today that contaminated pet food may now be in the human food supply(CNN), I have yet another reason to appreciate buying local.

Excerpt from the CNN article linked above:

NORTH CAROLINA: A farm with 1,400 hogs is under quarantine. It shipped 54 animals to a slaughterhouse, where they are on voluntary hold.

As the CNN article illustrates, food supply security is a serious issue at the scale of Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill. Much can go wrong, for thousands of people, quite fast. To the extent that we can augment our local food production through initiatives like the Metro-Farming idea, we should certainly explore those opportunities.

How about a city-chicken ordinance like Madison has?


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