What places do you treasure in the mountains?
The Farmland Values Project, a UNC Asheville initiative funded by
the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research,
Education and Extension Service, is seeking input on this question
from residents of Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties.
Information received from residents about the places they treasure
will be used with other data gathered by the Farmland Values
Project, including focus groups and surveys collected earlier in the
study, in order to get a complete picture of the values that people
have for farmland in our region. Leah Greden Mathews, UNC Asheville
environmental economist, is directing the project.
Mathews, who earlier conducted research on the monetary value
visitors place on Blue Ridge Parkway views, launched the Farmland
Values Project in May 2005. Her research team consists of UNC
Asheville staff and students, an artist, and faculty from
Appalachian State University in Boone and Old Dominion University in
Norfolk, Va. The team will create an assessment tool that can help
county commissioners, policymakers and land owners to make the best
possible decisions as the four-county study area faces continued
While a part of the team is working on collecting information from
residents about the places they treasure locally, other researchers
continue to compile data on population, land use and the
distribution of forest, agriculture and horticulture in the four
counties. They are building a database which will identify the
rural-urban edge of the area, or places where conversion of farmland
is most active.
"We want to be able to link maps of farmland with what people value
about that land," said Anne Lancaster, UNC Asheville project
The research team is seeking residents of Buncombe, Haywood,
Henderson and Madison counties to help document local treasured
places. Interested residents will be invited to attend a 90-minute
session in their home county in February. For more information or to
participate, contact the Farmland Values Project at 828/251-6562 or