Representing Granby’s Agricultural Commission, chairman Michelle Niedermeyer distributed copies of the Planning for Agriculture publication assembled jointly by the American Farmland Trust and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities to the Board of Selectmen at its October 2 meeting. Acknowledging the important contributions farming makes to many state communities in terms of quality of life, economy, preservation of land and leveraging federal and state grants, the authors of the report assessed how well Granby’s agriculture met the 25 criteria they instituted. Granby either fully or partially met 22 of the 25 criteria. Another way of saying this is that Granby is 88 percent supportive of agriculture.
In spite of all the positives, the report shows that there are areas for improvement and makes some recommendations. Among these, the first is for the town to adopt a “Right to Farm” ordinance. Although this ordinance would not confer any additional protections to local farms beyond what is already provided by state statues, it “reaffirms the town’s commitment to agriculture and identifies farming as an accepted and valued activity.”
Also recommended is to permanently preserve both the Evonsion and Holcomb Farms, as these properties have prime farmland soils; if developed, their potential would be forever lost. A conservation easement would endure that they remain farmland as town management and board memberships change. In addition, it is suggested that infrastructure such as sewer lines not be extended to these farming areas as another way to prevent development.
Also suggested to encourage and support farming would be for the town to consider implementing tax abatements on farm land, buildings, tools, animals and nursery products . This is probably not something that could be undertaken in the current fiscal crisis, but worth thinking about for the future.
Also, it is hoped that the schools would add education about farming into its state-mandated nutrition curriculum. Ideally taking field trips to local farms would drive home the fact that the pure whole foods produced by local farms is the very best nutrition available.
A copy of the full report is available in Granby Public and Cossitt libraries, or you can read it online at www.ct.gov/doag/lib/doag/farmlandpreservation/2012planningforag.pdf.