York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

Farmland preservation, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Ag use outpacing population growth

This view in Manchester Township is taken from a development, crosses farmland and runs into more development. Farmland preservation is taking hold, although non-farm use of land surpassed agricultural use 25 years ago. (See additional photo below.) Background posts: A York County story: Sprawl leaves problems in its wake and Demolished Red Lion Grange Hall still tells tale of changing York County and From Meadowbrook Mansion to York County farmhouse and All farm & fields posts from the start.

YorkCounts correctly believes farmland preservation is a key quality-of-life indicator in York County.

“York Countians value open space as a matter of principle and honor farmland in concert with our heritage,” the coalition stated in its recent report. “Preserving farmland means protecting not only the agricultural sector of the economy, which is still vibrant in York County, but also the very look and feel of the place where we live.”
Fortunately, YorkCounts’ stats show a trend line of acres of York County farmland gaining protection faster than population is growing… .

The Markets at Shrewsbury tells a story of York County. Such businesses offer farms a new market for their goods and homemade food. They keep the Pennsylvania Dutch ovens warm. But the market caters to motorists who clog roads and tax infrastructure and new residents whose houses cover once-fertile ground.

Here are a few brief thoughts on this indicator:
At one time, York County’s agricultural might supported five covered markethouses in the city and often ranked in the top 100 nationally in agricultural output.
But migrating Marylanders and spreading suburbanization gulped up farmland, particularly in the last two decades of the 20th century.
The tipping point in which land for non-farm use topped agricultural use came in the early 1980s.
Seeing this, York County agricultural preservation efforts commenced in earnest in the 1990s. Those efforts appear to be paying off.
YorkCounts is right in observing: “The land that surrounds our commercial centers – York and Hanover – is part and parcel of the quality of life in York County.”
Other posts in this series:
Farmland preservation, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Ag use outpacing population growth
Further education plans, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Post-high-school prospects rising
Teen motherhood, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Despite historic occurrence among Pennsylvania Dutch, rate is falling
High school graduation, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Rising after a low start.
Tobacco usage, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: Rooted in York County’s past.
Bias-related incidents, YorkCounts quality-of-life indicator: ‘A concern in York County’ .