Working cultural landscapes: US initiatives and strategies for their sustainability

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Working cultural landscapes: US initiatives and strategies for their sustainability Brenda Barrett Nora Mitchell

World Rural Landscapes International Symposium in Milan 5 November 2014

This presentation briefly reviews: (1) Current trends in U.S. agriculture (2) Recognizing and conserving heritage values (3) Promising case studies for working landscape conservation (4) Opportunities for the World Rural Landscape Approach

US Farmland as Percent of Land Area, by County 2012


Percentage of Farms and Acreage by Farm Size 100

Farms less than 500 acres

90 80 70

60 50 40

Farms more than 500 acres

30 20 10 0 1 2

Column 1 Percentage of Number of Farms by Size Column 2 Percentage of Acreage of Farms by Size

Crops from farmland in 2012 • Corn, soybeans, barley, hay sorghum grown on 2/3 US farmland - are used primarily for animal feed • Some additional corn is used for ethanol production – eight times as much is produced today, compared with 2000 • A small portion of farmland is used to grow food

Recognizing heritage value of agricultural landscapes • General lack of recognition of the heritage values of agricultural landscapes – especially with government agencies involved in agricultural policies and programs • Agricultural landscapes are not currently well represented in the US listings of places with historic and cultural value

US NPS has developed an evaluation process with evaluation criteria for agricultural landscapes

Initiatives and Strategies Family Farms Cuyahoga Valley National Park • Historic small farms and rural villages • From 19th century commerce by river and canal • Decline in agriculture

Revitalize historic farms Family Farms Cuyahoga Valley National Park • New nonprofit organization in partnership • Attract sustainable farming • Markets for local products • Educational programs

State-wide food policy and food systems Family Farms Cuyahoga Valley National Park • Connect directly with communities • State-wide food policy and food systems • Enhance economic vitality of regional agriculture programs

Initiatives and Strategies Family Farms State of Vermont • Rural landscape shaped in 18th and 19th centuries • Today is sense of place for Vermonters • Foundation for vibrant tourism economy

Initiatives and Strategies Family Farms State of Vermont • Demonstrated public support for working landscape • Developed a vision for the future of Vermont based on participatory process and research

Initiatives and Strategies Family Farms State of Vermont • State policies and programs to support working landscape • Joined other New England states in regional food policy – 50 by 60

Intensive Agriculture Increased crop yield through mechanized equipment, chemical inputs, genetic modification, and shift to patterns of intensive tillage Characterized by concentration and consolidation of land use. Majority of farm acres in the US are in intensive also known as industrial use

Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area

Initiatives and Strategies Silos and Smokestacks 37 counties in Northeastern Iowa 20,000 Square Miles Primarily corn and soybean cropping Designated a National Heritage Area Interprets: Science and technology of agriculture and farm to factory, including the role and history of agribusiness

Grazing Land Primarily beef cattle ranching over 367,000,000 acres In the western US grazing occurs on both public and private lands

Grant Kohrs National Historic Site

Heritage Initiatives Gant Kohrs National Historic Site Located in Northwestern Montana interprets ranching cattle in the period prior 1885 Today manage 100 head of cattle on 1,600 acres (once was 10 million acre empire)

Strategies: Programs on sustainable grazing and animal stewardship – help conserve continuity of use of the landscape.

Specialty Cropping Defined in the US as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops

The fruits and vegetables that the nation puts on the table At risk as 91% of US fruit and 78% of vegetables are in urban influenced areas

Adams County Fruit Belt

Heritage Agriculture South Mountain Fruitbelt • Located in Mid- Atlantic State of Pennsylvania • 20,000 acres of apple and stone fruit orchards • Close to rapidly urbanizing metropolitan areas • Strategies: Young farmers network, local branding, heritage surveys, tours, signage and heritage festivals

Heritage Foods • Blueberry Barrens • Cranberry Bogs • Chiles • Wild Rice

Future Initiatives and Strategies Heritage Foods

Organic and Heirloom Markets

Farmers Markets

Major Trends: Challenges & Opportunities • Intensification and consolidation of farmland • Cropland under development pressure or repurposed for energy and commodity production • Aging work force • Small scale effort for direct marketing • Growing awareness of heritage value • Interest in food quality and security

World Rural Landscape Approach will assist in tackling these challenges and learning new strategies in the understanding, management and protection of rural landscapes

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