Working Farms, Forests, and Ranches

There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.

--Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Owners of working landscapes – farms, orchards, ranches, forests – find themselves caught between two interests. They work hard to make a living from the land, and in many cases spend a lifetime protecting its natural and productive values. At the same time, their land represents a huge investment, and the time may come when they may want or need to use its development value realize a reasonable return on that investment . 

The creates a paradox. In regions with strong real-estate demand, particularly rapidly growing suburban and exurban areas, increases in property values can increase the pressure on landowners to sell their land for development. 

The food and fiber we obtain directly and indirectly from working lands depend on both the acreage of land producing crops and other farm products and the acreage and pattern of the forests, grasslands, and urban areas mixed within the farmland landscape. The conversion of well-managed agricultural lands to low-density housing or commercial development is typicaly accompanied by the loss of open space and habitat. 

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