- Sustainable Communities: urban/rural integration, sustainability measures, community development
The project addresses the challenges to agriculture presented by residential and commercial growth of NH towns and cities, those ag unfriendly tax, zoning, signage and other policies and regulations, as well as conflicts with new residential and commercial developments that make farming increasingly difficult. The project will research and develop a local governance tool, the Agricultural Commission (Ag Com) that can represent the municipality’s agricultural community and interests, support a sustainable agricultural industry, promote ag-based economic development, act as mediators, advocates, educators and or negotiators on agricultural issues, policies and or conflicts, serve as agricultural advisors to town boards and commissions (bringing in outside agricultural experts as needed), work for the preservation of agricultural land and facilitate communication among farmers. It will get farmers and non-farmers thinking and talking about agriculture in communities and create an awareness of agriculture as a business as well as a cherished view or open space. It will give farmers and communities a means of institutionalizing agricultural needs into local governance. The end result will be communities that are ag conscious and ag friendly. The project will create Ag Com information materials, conduct workshops for farmers and municipalities, monitor results and share findings. It uses a participatory bottom-up networked approach to involve stakeholders in project design, decisions and outcomes and assure project success.
Project objectives from proposal:
The NH Ag Com project will:
a. Work with stakeholders—farmers, local, state and regional planners, the Municipal Association, legislators, ag resource providers, and others—to research and adapt the Ag Com concept for use in NH.
b. Work with the Town of Lee to pilot an Ag Com in NH.
c. Develop Ag Com information and organizational materials for farmers, selectboards, planners, etc.
d. Make materials available on the web and in CD and print form.
e. Create a marketing campaign using the Coalition network to direct people to the web site and the CD.
f. Plan and conduct meetings/workshops to introduce Ag Coms to NH farmers, resource providers, planners, communities, etc.
a. After researching the experience of Ag Coms in MA and other states, the Study Committee develops criteria for Ag Coms in NH that fit NH needs, NH statutes and local governance structures.
b. Materials explaining what Ag Coms are, want they can do, how to organize and how to structure as well as providing sample warrant articles, press releases, etc are developed and published on the web and in CD and print formats.
c. Ag NH farmers and communities learn about Ag Coms by reading articles and attending workshops
NH farmers and NH towns and cities will have a new local governance tool they can use to sustain agricultural enterprises. At least 75% of NH farmers will know where to get information about this tool, know the process for getting this tool adopted in their town or city and how to use the tool in their communities. Adoption will happen according to the specific needs/issues/relationships between ag and town governance. While we recognize that Ag Coms may not be needed in all NH towns, the tool should be available in our state. Given the urbanizing pressures in southeastern NH, Ag Coms will be adopted first by towns and cities in Rockingham, Hillsborough and Strafford Counties.
We will start and complete this project within a year. We will monitor and report results over the next five years.