Agricultural land around Boise, Idaho is facing increasing development pressure, but some farmers hope that a growing city can boost the demand for locally grown produce.
"The Boise Valley had 16,000 farms in 1940 but by the 2002 Census of Agriculture, there were only 1,400 farms in agriculture in Ada County. According to Boise State research, farmland acreage decreased by 15 percent across the Treasure Valley from 1987-2002.
The loss of farms to development is a common story in America where 20 million acres of rural land were developed between 1970 and 1990. According to the American Farmland Trust (AFT) 86 percent of U.S. fruits and vegetables and 63 percent of our dairy products are produced in areas that are urban influenced. Even so, AFT believes that growth itself is not the problem. Instead inappropriate land use and development is the issue.
In response, AFT has developed a toolbox that many City planners are using to protect farmland...Through these tools some farmers in urban influenced areas have been able to stay on the land.
Others, have turned expanding urban areas into a source for new markets."
"In 2005, Janie Burns Meadowlark Farm sat just beyond the suburban sprawl and box stores in Nampa, just 20 miles from Boise.
While development has threatened and complicated farming in the Treasure Valley, Burns decided to harness the growth to expand her business.
"I've always felt development can increase the local market," she says."