What crosses your mind when a pasture, just recently home to grazing cows, is suddenly bare dirt and bulldozers? Do you feel excitement? Dismay? Resignation?
Many parts of the United States have been trying to balance growth and farmland preservation for decades. Areas with high quality farmland that have come under severe development pressure have led the way, as Oregon’s history attests. But Idaho, despite various pockets of concern, has avoided taking steps to either influence or mandate development patterns. Both relatively slow growth rates and determined commitment to private property rights have allowed development in the Treasure Valley to proceed as the market dictates.
More recently, Treasure Valley farmland is being converted into commercial and residential developments at a brisk pace. Voices from such disparate organizations as the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Ada County Soil and Water Conservation District are saying we should preserve farmland, but what does that mean? What is farmland? What do we lose when farmland is no longer farmland? Can we preserve both farmland and private property rights?
The Treasure Valley Food Coalition, a 501c3 organization with the mission to enhance the resilience, integrity and economic vitality of our local food system, is gathering a group of collaborators to explore the topic of Farmland Preservation in the Treasure Valley with the aim of exploring areas of synergy in values and goals.
We begin in October, 2016 with a general discussion of preservation – what is gained and lost. Our guest speaker will be Mike McGrath. For 28 years, Mr. McGrath managed the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation and headed the Planning Section in the Delaware Department of Agriculture. We believe he will bring an excellent introduction to the issues. We will then follow up in Spring 2017 with three focused events on preservation topics more particular to our locale, e.g. the effects of water scarcity, existing farm infrastructure.
This is a conversation about food security, values, heritage, prosperity, quality of life – in other words, this conversation can engage every single resident of this valley. Come learn and participate in creating the future we will all share. Join the Treasure Valley Food Coalition and the Boise Coop on either October 10th in Boise or October 11th in Caldwell for a presentation on “Why Save Farmland?”