Editor: I was recently struck by a recent article in The Washington Post that described the loss of valuable primary forest land to 5-acre mansion homes in Fairfax County.
As a local farmer, I am reading in a recent issue of Hoard’s Dairyman that in one year, from 2019 to 2020, the U.S. has lost 4,400 farms and 800,000 acres to development. At the same time in the May 20 the issue of this newspaper, I am reading that our Loudoun County board is considering dedicating funding for housing needs. In the same addition, we learn that local businesses are struggling with supply chain shortages.
In all these cases mentioned above, the common thread is that we are either destroying what we have or experiencing a shortage of what we don’t have.
As a Loudoun County Farm Bureau member, I can tell you that without locally grown food supplies provided by local farmers in Loudoun County during this Covid-19 pandemic, many Loudoun County citizens in both the east and west would have been hard pressed to supply their daily food needs without having access to local farmers markets, including locally grown food made available through Community Food Associations (CSAs), not to mention local food donated to local food pantries.
So, given that most of the states in the West, Southwest and much of the Southeast are now experiencing severe drought with no end in sight, why would we not want to protect as much of our primary forests and productive agriculture land as possible? Why do we not want to be very concerned that in Loudoun County we have lost 67 square miles of farmland from 2002 to 2017 which is 20% of our Rural Policy Area. Based on the county’s projections, we will lose an additional 70-80 square miles (50% of the RPA) from 2002 to 2040.
What can we do to help save what we most desperately need to save to provide for the general welfare of our children and grandchildren? First, let your district Board of Supervisor member know that you are concerned. Let them know that we must become much smarter about protecting our most valuable natural resources, forests and local farmland. If we are going to continue to permit development, then we have to become much smarter about where and how we place houses, buildings and new expansons in rural areas of the county.
Second, we don’t have to be against development; we just need to be sure we are saving what will really be important for the survival of our grandchildren. Once our most valuable natural resources such as our primary forests, prime agriculture land and soils are lost, they are gone— lost forever. And what will our grandchildren be saying about us?
John Adams, Lucketts