NORRISTOWN, PA – During their regularly scheduled meeting, the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners today (01/21/2021) announced the County has reached a historic milestone by preserving 10,000 acres of farmland. Over 30 years, the Montgomery County Agricultural Land Preservation Program has worked to preserve open space and support productive farms in the County, which also provides important open spaces and scenic vistas.
During the meeting, a celebratory video was released featuring farmers who have preserved their land through the program. The Commissioners also voted to authorize $90,575 to support the farmland preservation program in 2021. This County funding leverages additional state dollars to bring total program funding to over $2 million dollars annually.
“We are proud to recognize Montgomery County’s farming heritage, which dates back more than 200 years,” said Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “The farmland preservation program shows not only the importance of open space, but also the vital ways that farms contribute to the County’s economic and sustainability efforts.”
To date, there are 177 farms, representing a combined total of 10,196 acres, preserved in Montgomery County under the Montgomery County Agricultural Land Preservation Program. In Pennsylvania, there are 5,813 preserved farms in 59 participating counties, representing an overall total of 591,819 acres preserved statewide.
“The importance of local food provided by Montco farms cannot be understated,” said Kenneth E. Lawrence, Jr., Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners. “The growth of the farm-to-table movement has decreased both food miles traveled and carbon footprints to make it a win-win for everyone. Local farms are also critical partners in our anti-hunger efforts to support people in need by providing healthy, local food to our residents.”
Funding for the program comes from both the County and state, and, in some cases, the municipality. The remainder of the funding comes from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through cigarette taxes, the Environmental Stewardship Fund, and other sources. A township or borough may contribute money to preserve a farm within its own boundaries.
Montgomery County thanks partners who have supported the farmland preservation program over the years including the Montgomery County Conservation District, the Montgomery County Farm Bureau, and the Penn State Extension Montgomery County.
To see a map of all preserved farms in Montgomery County, click here. Historic and current-day photos of preserved farms are available upon request.
About The Montgomery County Agricultural Land Preservation Program
The farmland preservation program purchases agricultural easements on productive farms in Montgomery County. When the easement is sold, the owner keeps the land but the land must remain in farming in perpetuity. The farmer may sell the land, but the new owner must continue to grow productive crops or pasture on it. Applying to the program is voluntary. The application period for the current cycle of the program is open through February 1, 2021. For information on the program, contact Stephen Zbyszinski at (610) 278-5960.