AmericanFarm.com

Creech: This land is our land (Editorial)

(Oct. 21, 2014) American Farmland and Trust tells the story this way:
Sara Creech never dreamed of becoming a family farmer. Farming wasn’t something she considered until her husband Chuck was diagnosed with colon cancer.
Sara remembers, “During Chuck’s treatment, we would visit farms outside of town and chat with the local farmers. There’s something healing about getting your hands in the earth.”
The couple — who only had six more years in the military — started making plans to buy a farm once Chuck retired.
Then, in 2011, Chuck lost his battle with cancer at just 36.
Devastated, Sara decided to live out the couple’s dream by buying a farm and growing organic foods.
In 2012, Sara started Blue Yonder Organic Farm in Indiana near her sister.
“It hasn’t been easy, but it sure has been rewarding,” she said.
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But her mission to spread the gospel of farmland preservation continues.
“I’m afraid for farmland,” she said. “We must get people to realize that once land is developed, it’s gone,”
Closer to home, Maryland Ag Secretary Buddy Hance, in an MDA blog reminding the residents of the state’s rural counties, about Maryland’s right to farm law, warned of the inevitability of farmland loss.
“The impact of agriculture on Maryland’s economy amounts to $8.25 billion annually and 45,600 jobs, “Hance wrote.
During the next 20 years, Hance continued, there will be nearly a million more people in Maryland — and more than 400,000 additional households. Much of this growth will be in rural areas.
The state, along with almost every county, Hance said, has a farmland preservation program in place and a strong commitment to it, yet increasingly farmers must balance the concerns of neighbors with the necessities of agricultural production.
“As more land is developed, we will see fewer farms and fewer people dedicated to agriculture,” he said. “As a result, we are going to see agriculture become more concentrated with a bigger production scale on smaller plots of land to meet consumer demand.”
Sara is right: “Once land is developed, it’s gone.”
The wide-open farm fields of the Mid-Atlantic beckon, but they must be protected.
Right to farm laws protect the farmer. But the farm field themselves claim equal protection. They have a right to be farmed.