Farmland Protection Planning
In September 2022, Foothills Regional Commission was commissioned by the Rutherford County Soil and Water Conservation District to create a Farmland Protection Plan that meets NC’s state requirements. The plan analyzes the current state of farming in Rutherford County, identifies the primary challenges and opportunities for agriculture, and presents a set of recommendations to assist government leaders in preserving local agriculture. The assessment was made by compiling information from agricultural census reports, conducting a survey of Rutherford farmers, and holding individual interviews with farmers, agribusinesses, and key stakeholders involved in agricultural-related activities.
The final plan was adopted by the Rutherford County Board of Commissioners on May 1st, 2023. The final plan can be found here.
Foothills Region Agriculture Metrics
The Center for Environmental Farming Systems created infographics depicting data from the 2012 and 2017 Censuses of Agriculture for all 100 counties in North Carolina. The infographics for the Foothills region can be found below:
- Cleveland County, 2012
- Cleveland County, 2017
- McDowell County, 2012
- McDowell County, 2017
- Polk County, 2012
- Polk County, 2017
- Rutherford County, 2012
- Rutherford County, 2017
- Foothills Region (previously Isothermal Planning and Development Commission), 2012
For additional, more current local context, the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) reports the findings from an analysis of primary data exploring changes in the growing practices of farmers producing food for local markets in Western North Carolina from 2008 to 2016 found here and a 2017 Produce Survey Report found here.
McDowell County Food Hub and Producers Meeting
The Foothills Food Hub is a project of the McDowell Local Food Advisory Council (LFAC). It’s a brick-and-mortar response to food access and system issues that were recognized in our region. The Food Hub is designed to integrate several food system components. The facilities will include:
- Food pantry storage and packing;
- Farm fresh produce wash line, cold storage and distribution;
- Teaching kitchen for cooking and other classes; and
- Commercial kitchen for meal preparation, value added processing and food entrepreneur development.
The Foothills Food Hub will significantly address food insecurity, support a local food economy, and transform the food system and public health infrastructure of McDowell County and the region.