Farmland Studies <BACK
HISTORY OF AGRICULTURE IN THE STUDY AREA
Lancaster County has long been known for its Plain Sect Culture and
the farms the Old Order Communities support. The Amish and Mennonite
communities in Lancaster County date back to the early 1700s, relocating
from Europe as part of William Penn's "holy experiment" of
religious tolerance. To this day, the historic agricultural heritage
of Lancaster County is more than prevalent. There are more Old Order
farms in the county than ever before, and any visit to Lancaster County
will spark nostalgia with scenic vistas etched with horse drawn buggies,
historic farmsteads, and covered bridges. Statistically, Lancaster County
is the still the most productive agricultural county in Pennsylvania
and boasts the most productive non-irrigated farmland in the world!
Among Pennsylvania counties in the year 2000, Lancaster County was ranked
first in every measured livestock category except one and either first
or second in more than half of the measured categories of crop production.
In addition, when compared to the average Pennsylvania county, Lancaster
has more than six times the number of farms (5,910) and nearly four
times the acres of farmland (421,000 acres).
The PA 23 EIS Study Area is quintessential Lancaster County - thriving
Old Order Communities and rolling hills of farmland. There are numerous
farms within the project's study area, many of which are operated by
Amish or Mennonite farmers. Despite its heritage, the PA 23 EIS Study
Area has not eluded growth and development. Some rural towns have developed
into economic centers, promoting unplanned residential and commercial
growth. In order to protect farmland from growth pressures, Lancaster
County has purchased Agricultural Easements and developed an Agricultural
Security Area program. Within the PA Route 23 study area alone, 43 farms
have been purchased as Agricultural Easements and 62 are enrolled in
the Agricultural Security Area program. Both of these numbers continue
to increase as funding becomes available.
Lancaster County has been in the past and continues to be wealthy with
agricultural resources. With conservation efforts like Agricultural
Easements and Agricultural Security Areas, and through planned growth,
like the PA 23 EIS project, Lancaster County's farmland will continue
to thrive well into the future.