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Preserving farmland in Fairfield County
The Ohio Farmland Preservation program continues to ensure that tens of thousands of acres on hundreds of farms across the state remain in agricultural production.
In one recent example, more than 300 acres of land in Fairfield County were preserved through the Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (AEPP). Roger Wolfe, along with Joe and Azure Koehler, signed papers to place the development rights of their land into the program.
“Fairfield County is among the fastest growing counties in Ohio in terms of population,” said John Torres, organization director for Fairfield, Hocking, Pickaway and Ross County Farm Bureaus. “It has long been a Fairfield County Farm Bureau policy to support programs that help protect farmland.” Both Wolfe and the Koehlers are members of Fairfield County Farm Bureau.
AEPP is funded through the Clean Ohio program and provides funding so landowners and communities may preserve Ohio’s farmland. The Koehlers signed over the development rights on 131 acres through this program. Wolfe signed over his development rights as well, but first sought protection of his 207 acres through an Agricultural Security Area, which restricts the development of large blocks of land in an agreement between local government and landowners for a 10-year period of time.
According to John Ferbrache, research specialist for Fairfield County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), with the addition of these 338 acres, there is now a total of 1,700 acres in Fairfield County permanently protected through these programs. The county commissioners, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Soil and Water Conservation District, all share the responsibility of monitoring the land preservation programs. The Fairfield County Farm Bureau supports programs like these and recognizes the need to build strong relationships with all agencies involved.
Photo courtesy of Fairfield SWCD