Katie M. Myers, Farmland Programs Coordinator
Northeast Ohio (16 county region) is a thriving agricultural area and has quiet economic driver –> farms. I have been working on the Northeast Ohio Agricultural Atlas, a guide about the capacity and potential of and for agricultural operations here in Northeast Ohio. I wanted to give you a sneak peek into the findings.
Did you know that there are over 1.68 million acres of farmland in Northeast Ohio? Even Cuyahoga County- the most populated holds approximately 2,900 acres of land in farms. The sad news is we are losing ground at alarming rates. In fact, the State of Ohio is ranked 2nd in the nation for loss of prime farmland, with a decreasing population to boot. The good news is…in the urban areas we are reclaiming a significant amount of once commercial or residential land by planting gardens and raising small scale livestock, and in the rural areas farmers are diversifying their operations and adding value through niche markets.
Opportunities exist for green growth within the region.
All is not lost, by no means. To place a bottom line on the asset that land in agriculture lends to the community, let’s talk fruit and nuts! Economically, Northeast Ohio is the leader in the state as far as the value of sales in fruit, tree nuts and berries are concerned. When ranked against all 88 counties in Ohio, NE Ohio dominates the top 10 positions! The other counties in the top ten are on the peripheral of the 16 county region. Here is the list:
Pretty impressive! Not only is NE Ohio bringing home the “bacon” in regards to value of sales, we have an impressive amount of land dedicated to fruit. In the 16 county region, there are a total of 489 Orchards and 4,501 acres planted in orchards. Almost 43% of the total land in orchards for the state is in NE Ohio.
So how can you access some of this delicious fruit grown right here in your backyard? Try your local farmers’ market. There are at least 56 farmers’ markets in the region (including the Countryside Farmers’ Markets)-and that number is growing! See map.