Having a good amount of greenspace and open space in Guilford County improves the quality of life and means that there’s more fresh air for everyone to breathe, which is why the county has a program that’s meant to help preserve that space. This week, Guilford County will add three new “Voluntary Agricultural Districts” as part of the program that was developed years ago by the NC Department of Agriculture to “encourage the preservation and protection of farmland from non-farm development.”

In February, the Guilford County Agricultural Advisory Board approved three applications for the program that offers certain benefits for farm owners and other open space property owners if they commit to declaring the property a Voluntary Agricultural District and they make a commitment to keep the land rural.

Those who enroll their land in the program can qualify for benefits such as special upkeep and preservation grants, waivers from water and sewer assessments, protection from condemnation – and they become eligible for enhanced benefits from various NC Soil and Water Conservation District programs.

Summerfield is one Guilford County town where the debate over land development has been raging right now – with farmer and developer David Couch proposing a large new residential development. However, 17 acres of land owned by Crystal Bennett of Summerfield will stay as it is once it’s declared as part of the preservation program later this week.

Near Jamestown, 21 acres owned by Brian Small, Karen Small, Emily Batchelor and William Batchelor will also enter the program – and the Julian area will see the addition of 101 acres, three separate tax parcels owned by Don and Betty York, be officially put on the list of land in the county to be preserved.

To date, approval of these types of applications brings the total number of parcels in Guilford County participating in the program up to 436, with a total of nearly 20,000 acres enrolled.