Pennsylvania

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Community Gardening in Philadelphia:2008 Harvest Report

This report summarizes research on the state of community and squatter gardens in Philadelphia, with a focus on the production and distribution of food. The specific aims of this project were to measure the amount of food grown in community gardens and to trace its distribution. The broader goal of this ongoing research is to understand the roles and impacts of community gardens in building food security for households and communities. It involved three sorts of research, all conducted in the summer of 2008:

A Planners Guide to Community and Regional Food Planning: Transforming Food Environments, Facilitating Healthy Eating

Food nourishes us, enriches our celebrations, and sustains life itself. Yet not everyone in the United States has equal access to healthy food. Some of us live in neighborhoods where grocery stores carry a greater variety of potato chips than vegetables, while some of us cannot afford vegetables even when they are available. This report shows how planners can play a significant role in shaping the food environment of communities and thereby facilitate healthy eating.

Review of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program

In November, the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee released its comprehensive evaluation of the state’s farmland protection program. Senate Resolution 2007-197 called for the assessment as the program approached its 20th anniversary and directed the committee to address nineteen issues—everything from project selection criteria to the potential use of state funds for enforcement actions.

Farmers' Markets Rules, Regulations and Opportunities

The purpose of this study is to examine the structure and operation of farmers’ markets in the United States, giving special attention to the legal and regulatory issues that may shape their operation. By looking at the rules and regulations markets use and by considering issues markets experience, it is possible to identify the most important challenges vendors and managers of markets may face. It is also possible to make some common sense suggestions on how markets can best address and resolve issues while maintaining their friendly and relatively informal nature.

Regionalist Approaches to Farm and Food Systems Policy: A Focus on the Northeast

This paper explores why agriculture and food system policy needs to pay more attention to regions. Regionalism, which urges a move from sector-based to place-based policymaking, has emerged as a powerful principle in public policy. Applied to agriculture and food policy, it acknowledges the regional diversity of the U.S. farm and food system and enables important differences between regions to be articulated and addressed more explicitly in the policy making
process.

Community Benefits and Costs of Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements

The National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided funding for American Farmland Trust (AFT) to estimate the benefits that a farm could provide a local community in the future when its development rights are purchased. AFT analyzed the financial impacts to communities and individuals that result from protected farmland. Through the use of existing sources of data to generate this information, potential benefits are quantified in a way that taxpayers can understand and appreciate.

Farm Viability in Urbanizing Areas: Case Study on Berks County, Pennsylvania

Many important agricultural counties in the United States are urbanizing; and the long-term viability of farming there is in doubt despite considerable public policy efforts to retain the financial, employment, consumer, and other benefits of local farming enterprises. Focusing on 15 metro-area counties in 14 states, the study's purpose was to identify conditions under which farming may remain viable as important agricultural counties transition to become mostly urban and suburban in land use.

Is There Evidence of a Critical Mass in the Mid-Atlantic Agriculture Sector Between 1949 and 1997?

Ongoing farmland loss has led county planners to ask “is there a critical mass of farmland needed?” to retain a viable agricultural sector. This study examines whether counties lost farmland at a faster rate if the number of agricultural acres fell below a critical threshold. Results from six Mid Atlantic states over the period 1949 to 1997 indicate that counties with fewer agricultural acres lost farmland at a faster rate.

Is There a Critical Mass of Agricultural Land Needed to Sustain an Agricultural Economy? Evidence from Six Mid-Atlantic States

The critical mass concept is based on the idea that a certain amount of agricultural activity must be sustained in order for the agricultural economy in an area to remain viable. As production levels decline below a given threshold, costs will rise, and support businesses will close or relocate. If the input and output firms exit the region, the closest input supplier may not only be farther away for a farmer but may also charge higher prices for inputs, veterinarian services, and equipment repairs.

Peach Bottom Township, PA: Agricultural Zoning Ordinance

Peach Bottom Township utilizes sliding scale zoning in its agricultural zoning ordinance.  Sliding scale zoning is used to retain large farm parcels while allowing for limited residential development.  As the density table in this ordinance illustrates, fewer acres are required per residential unit or subdivision for smaller parcels in comparison to larger parcels.  Peach Bottom Township has also established maximum lot sizes for new residential subdivision of one acre, unless the land cannot be feasibly farmed.  

East Donegal Township, PA: Agricultural Zoning Ordinance

The zoning code for the township of East Donegal combines reduced density with maximum lot sizes.  This maintains farm parcels that are large enough for sustained agricultural use, while ensuring that people looking to buy land for new residences don't compete directly with farmers for agricultural land.  The zoning code establishes agricultural districts in which one residence is allowed per 25 acres.  New subdivisions are capped at a maximum of two acres.  Two new lots are allowed per parcel as long as the new development occurs on non-tillable land. 

Pennsylvania Sustainable Agriculture Project - 1992

Environmental issues are a major concern for U.S. agricultural producers. All across the country, farmers are taking inventory of their operations in an effort to identify and correct farming practices that have the potential to degrade land and water resources. The desire to farm more responsibly has caused a revolution of sorts in many agricultural communities, with farmers adopting environmentally friendly techniques at an unprecedented rate. This trend toward a renewed environmental responsibility is commonly referred to as sustainable agriculture.

Much Ado About Kelo: Eminent Domain and Farmland Protection

In the case of Kelo v. the City of New London, the Supreme Court ruled that the Connecticut city could acquire land by eminent domain to make way for a private commercial development project that implements the city’s economic development plan. Regardless of how this controversial decision is applied, the case has raised public awareness about, and legislators’ willingness to address, eminent domain. Against this backdrop, there is an opportunity for farmland protection advocates to curb condemnation that could result in, or spur, farmland conversion.

Creating Viable Farms and Ranches: An Economic Development Strategy in Rural and Urban-Edge Communities

Staying profitable when competing against a flood of products produced from four corners of the globe is one of the greatest challenges for farmers and ranchers. To address this challenge, communities that recognize the value of agriculture to the local economy implement land use planning techniques and agricultural economic development tools. By planning for an economically healthy agriculture with pro-farming techniques that are integrated into an overall comprehensive land use plan, urban-edge communities retain the qualities that make them attractive.

Warwick Township, PA: Local TDR Enabling Ordinance

 

Warwick Township has enacted a TDR program that designates its agricultural zone as a sending area for development rights and allocates each farm in the agricultural zone one TDR credit for every two acres of farmland.  Farmers can voluntarily sell these TDR credits to the town a fair market value.  Subsequently, the town will sell them to developers interested in being permitted to increase impervious surface coverage in the township's campus industrial zone.  

Mitigation of Farmland Loss

American Farmland Trust (AFT) conducted research to provide the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) with information about programs that practice mitigation of farmland loss across the country. This report contains a brief summary and evaluation of the Farmland Protection Policy Act (FPPA) and case studies that describe the approaches and results
of mitigation efforts in some state and local programs.

 

Farmland Protection: The Role of Public Preferences for Rural Amenities

Public amenities provided by a rural agricultural landscape, arising from open space and farm activity, are important to many citizens and policymakers. Widespread development of farmland in some parts of the country has spawned an expanding array of farmland protection programs by county, State and Federal governments, as well as by nonprofit organizations.

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