Saving land for public use is important

Published 12:11 pm Friday, April 7, 2023

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Protecting some of our lands from development so future generations have the opportunity to enjoy it seems to be taking hold in the Upstate.


In Landrum, efforts are underway for the town to buy a 129-acre parcel and turn it into a public park. The Landrum City Council believes if it doesn’t buy the land it will be developed into a large housing subdivision. Landrum, Tryon and Columbus are located in a development alley as South Carolina’s Greater Greenville and Spartanburg area continues a real estate development push into the Upstate.

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Landrum is to be commended for this effort. Public hearings will begin next month on the proposal, including hearing from local folks on how the land might best be used as a park. For some, the $3.3 million park might seem expensive, but it’s actually a bargain if you consider the quality-of-life improvements it will bring.


In Rutherford County, an effort is underway to save and protect farmland. A Farmland Protection Plan has been prepared by the Foothills Regional Commission for the county. A public meeting on April 17 at the Rutherford County Office Building will give the public an opportunity to weigh in on the plan as well as a set of recommendations for county leaders to follow to enable agriculture to continue to thrive in the county.


My dad used to say that land is valuable because “they’re not making any more of it. All we’re ever going to have is here.”


When brothers Doug and Alan Harmon decided it was time to slow down and sell their second-generation, 200-plus acre dairy farm in rural Polk County, they were adamant that their land, which has one of the best mountain views in the state, would not be developed. They placed the land under an agricultural conservation easement and then sold it to Looking Glass Creamery, a Buncombe County artisanal cheese and caramel enterprise. Owners Jennifer and Andy Perkins have since opened a farm store on the property.


Through agritourism efforts, visitors to the farm are able to enjoy this magnificent farm and learn about dairy cows and cheese making.


At the forefront of the movement to preserve our land is Conserving Carolina, a nonprofit based in Hendersonville and covering Western North Carolina and the Upstate. Their tenets include protecting our land and water, engaging communities to embrace the saving of land and protecting natural areas


Conserving Carolina has already saved 48,000 acres, including 140 acres that form a park at Little White Oak Mountain in Polk County.


Those who perhaps benefit the most from land-protecting and park-creating efforts are families. No matter what a person’s socio-economic position is, being in a park where nature speaks or visiting a farm where our food is produced is uplifting.


So let’s do more of this. For our families.


Larry McDermott is a local retired farmer/journalist. Reach him at