A Strategy for Sustaining Henderson County Agricultural Communities

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2004: $8,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Lori Sand
Henderson County Planning Department


  • Fruits: apples, general tree fruits
  • Vegetables: beans, cucurbits, peppers, tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: ornamentals, trees
  • Animals: bovine


  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, workshop
  • Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, partnerships, public participation, urban/rural integration, employment opportunities, social capital, social networks, community development


    Henderson County is home to one of the most productive agricultural economies in Western North Carolina. It is also undergoing change as the result of development pressure on farmland and global shifts in agricultural markets. There is broad support for agriculture in both urban and rural communities. This project explored ways that the Henderson County government can support agriculture as one of the pillars of the local economy. Extensive public comment provided the basis for an agricultural chapter in the recently adopted County Comprehensive Plan. That plan recommends actions for preserving farmland, directing economic development resources to farmers, ensuring that other county polices are farm-friendly, and appointing an agricultural ombudsman within county government. The specifics of these recommendations are detailed in attachments to this final report. (Contact the SARE Office for copies of any attachments noted in this report.)


    Henderson County is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the western part of North Carolina. Community support for agriculture remains strong but development threatens the farmland base that is essential to agriculture in the future. Shifting agricultural markets are bringing traditional products such as milk and apple juice into question. A plan was needed to focus the attention of the community on these issues and on how to respond. SARE provided the resources to achieve that focus to a greater degree than would have been possible otherwise. Our successful planning process and the plan adopted by our Board of County Commissioners is described in this final report and the following attachments.

    Project objectives:

    The grant proposal described the following objectives:

    1. A county agricultural profile. The profile is attached to this report. (attachment A)
    2. Listening sessions to hear from farmers and the agricultural community. Two instead of four sessions were supported with SARE funds because many community meetings were held which covered agriculture as well as other topics related to the comprehensive plan (attachment B.)
    3. A draft agricultural plan took the form of a report (attachment A) that served as the basis for the final plan (attachment C) which was adopted by the Board of County Commissioners in July 2004.
    4. Action strategies were identified in the agriculture plan and the Comprehensive Plan implementation schedule.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.