An initiative in Guilford County that aims to preserve farmland and the agricultural way of life is growing. Local commissioners recently approved adding nearly 100 acres to the county's Voluntary Agricultural District.

North Carolina created the Voluntary Agricultural Districts Program in the mid-80s. Guilford adopted it in 2000. The purpose is to protect green spaces from non-farm development, drive the economy, and preserve rural landscapes and farming heritage.

It can provide benefits including cost-sharing programs, grants to enhance farming operations, and signage. Gary Cox with the Guilford County Soil and Water Conservation District says he's already seeing the impact that programs like this are having on the community.

“Even though Guilford County is getting urbanized, we still have a big percentage of our folks that are farms," says Cox. "We have a lot of farms that have, you know, they have children and grandchildren that are taking the farms over. So the farms that we have left are very viable and doing well in the county."

Cox says in Guilford County, there are more than 420 parcels and 18,000 acres enrolled in both the Voluntary and Enhanced Agricultural District programs.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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