photo on prior page of Crebilly Farm ERIK WEBER story MICHAEL LYNCH
n our collective imagination, the idea of farming is often evocative of rural life throughout the United States and over the course of its history. Here in West Chester, that concept is literally and particularly close to home. Anyone who may explore the landscape not too far outside of the borough would immediately discover how southern Chester County is marvelously speckled by a patchwork of rolling historic farmland. According to the U.S. Census on Agriculture, in 1900 there were six million farms, and agriculture employed 41% of the American workforce, whereas in 2015, there were two million farms and only 1% of people worked in farming. Although our information and technology-based economy of the 21st century is largely disconnected from agriculture, farms remain a central element of rural heritage in our community. This is a result not only of the historic and economic relationship between farmland and the local community, but also of the multi-generational nature of family farms, which promote a deep-rooted connectivity between land and place. Fortunately for residents of Chester County, the Agricultural Land Preservation Board (ALPB) approaches this deep-rooted connectivity to land and place with a clear sense of reverence.
The Agricultural Land and Preservation Board The ALPB is a nine-member board appointed by the Chester County Board of Commissioners which was created in 1989. Its purpose is to carry out the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program, and to partner with landowners, nonprofit organizations, municipalities, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to permanently preserve farmland in Chester County. These partnerships are designed to preserve the most productive non-irrigated
Milky Way Farm farmhouse
IN 1900 THERE WERE SIX MILLION FARMS, AND AGRICULTURE EMPLOYED 41% OF THE AMERICAN WORKFORCE, WHEREAS IN 2015, THERE WERE TWO MILLION FARMS AND ONLY 1% OF PEOPLE WORKED IN FARMING agricultural soils in the world, provide adequate local and county park and recreation opportunities, preserve significant natural areas, and to encourage revitalization of developed lands.
In the past year, the ALPB preserved its 500th farm in Chester County, bringing the total number of agricultural acres preserved in the county to just under 40,000, an astounding number by any measure. Brianne Zanin is the Director of Open Space Preservation for Chester County and speaks about the importance of farm preservation and the ALPB’s efforts to preserve agricultural acreage in Chester County. “[Farm preservation] encourages the continuation of Pennsylvania’s extensive agriculture industry and local supplies of fresh food,” she says. “It also protects natural and historical resources such as productive soils, surface water, groundwater, air quality,
OCTOBER 2019 THEWCPRESS.COM
Voice of the Borough