The goal of Keep Farming is to maintain a sustainable agricultural community in Chatham. This means that we are making a long-term commitment to being a farm community. During stage two, teams are focusing on four areas that are critical components of honoring this commitment.
- Land: How do we preserve land for agriculture?
- Infrastructure: How do we ensure the long-term sustainability of a local healthy food system? How do we insure the economic viability of farms as businesses?
- People: How do we ensure that the right number of people, with the skills and information to be successful, are available to farm? How do we help people transition into and out of farming? How do we provide ongoing education and information to citizens to support a sustainable agricultural community?
- Money: How do we develop funding sources to provide resources to do the above?
What does it mean to be an Agricultural District?
Most of the farms in Chatham are located in a state-designated agricultural district and are covered by the Agricultural Districts Law. This law was established to protect and promote a farmer’s opportunity to operate a successful business.
Under the Ag Districts Law farmers are provided:
- Limitations on eminent domain, other public projects, or private citizen construction projects.
- Protection from unreasonably restrictive “anti-farming” local laws.
- Right to Farm Law protection from nuisance lawsuits.
- Exemption of the land’s non-agricultural value from local real property taxes through an ag assessment.
Chatham has made a long-term commitment to being and remaining a farm community, and we make every effort to honor this commitment.
We believe that by preserving the town’s farmland, we protect open rural space, natural resources, and the agrarian roots that help to make Chatham a special place to live. We continue to commit significant resources dedicated to the long-term preservation of farmland.
Farming and ag-related businesses are a significant part of Chatham’s economy. The town is recognized as a farm-friendly community. Policies and procedures reflect this status and facilitate rather than hinder farming operations as businesses.
The town understands the true cost of services to farms, residences, and businesses and makes policy decisions that equalize the financial burden among these entities. We believe in the importance of locally grown, healthy, fresh food.
We work, often in partnership with other organizations, to insure a sustainable local food network for our town.