I was reading the local newspaper this weekend and stumbled across an end of the year recap from a story that debute earlier in the year. I must have be very busy this year because I totally missed it back in April. The story talked about how all the farms could be replace by residential houses in my county by the year 2045.
The thought of the remaining farms in the county to be lost to houses just makes me as a farmer sad to think we are losing land that I would love to own and farm. I know that I am not alone on this thought as there are tons of young farmers or aspiring farmers in my same situation.
The article said that they expect the county to grow by about 80,000 more people in the next 30 some years. As is, most of the central and eastern half of the county has already lost the majority of the farms to residential or commercial developing and it is slowly working its way towards us. There are just about 5 or 6 townships in the western section of this county out of a total of 17 that I actually still consider still "rural".
I believe that this is mostly due to the fact that the county spent the last 30 years installing waterlines on practically every road in the county. The only thing that has slowed them down some is that fact that the county is divided in half by a continental divide, a ridge that determines the flows of water to Lake Erie or the Ohio River, and they have legal issues installing on the other side of the divide.
I know for a fact that Lorain County directly west of us not only has waterlines installed but formed a members co-op wastewater sewer district which just last year finished installing sewers in parts of some of the county's townships in the northern section and their future goal is to have sewers in all of that county. Once that happens, it is just a matter of time for us.
Our county in itself has 534 miles of sewers that runs though it, granted mostly in the cities but if you look at the county sewer map on line you will be surpised where else they are located.
I have experience this before in my lifetime. I witness one town in Cuyahoga County just to the north of our county that went from 7,000 people to more than 48,000 people in just 25 years. A quite little town that was just as rural as the town where my farm is located, is now a busy suburban city with very heavy congestive traffic with 5-7 lane roads and housing developments and big box stores and malls everywhere you look. That is not an isolated case because in my county, in just the last 20 years, there are several cities that have exploded in population but more particular, they have see a huge number of strip malls and big box stores built on land that use to be quite farms.
Granted, the people out where my farm is located do not want what happend to the northern counties and in the cities in our county in their backyards. Most of the zoning codes require that houses be built on no less than 3 acres but I think that it should be raised to at least 10 or more to slow the growth.
I know one town southeast of us supposively has a high commercial tax to prevent commercial development of big box stores/strip malls but that did not stop them from building an outlet mall and fast food restaurants and if I remember correctly, most of the farmland along that state route is up for sale as commercial land.
Most people I speak to and read about in the newpaper editorial section are in an uproar when they hear about developing farmland but the local politicians don't care what others want.
A lot of this has to do to the fact that most young farmers just can't afford to buy land due to very high land prices and no way to finance it so the farmers sells to developer instead if the family does not want to continue to farm. I just read an article that said land was at an all time high an dwas not expected to come down anytime soon.
Please click here if you want to read about the problem of unaffordable land in a previous posting.
This situation is not just in my backyard but going on all across this whole country. If this continues to happen, we will be faced with the extinction of the small family farm that once built this great country economy and will be held captive to the giant factory farms which pollutes the environment, treats the animals in abusive ways and poisons the meat with chemicals, antibiotics, hormones, and radiation.
I wish more local farmers start using the Ohio farm preservation program that we have. It allows the farmer to put the land aside in this program so it can never be developed like lots of farms in the past, in essense saving the farm from developers so future generations can have the same thing you and I had in life- Local, Healthy, Sustainable food!
Please support local farms!