Voluntary Ag Districts Benefit Farmers

Cost-Share programs are available for farmland conservation easement landowners through Buncombe County’s Voluntary Agricultural District 

Agricultural lands are an essential component of the western North Carolina landscape and the region’s natural and cultural history, and SAHC takes pride in helping farmers protect their land from non-farming development. Our agricultural conservation easement landowners’ commitment to permanently preserve their land in active farming contributes to the continued vibrancy and health of our region. In recognition of these contributions, Buncombe County Soil & Water Conservation offers a Voluntary Agricultural District Preservation Program, which benefits landowners whose farmland is under conservation easement in Buncombe County.

What is a Voluntary Agricultural District?

Voluntary Agricultural Districts (VADs) play an important role in slowing the loss of farmland and protecting farmers in the region. Farmland preservation helps protect our region’s natural resources, wildlife habitat, scenic beauty, and rural economy. Specifically, a VAD is an area of qualifying farmland of at least 50 acres, (which may consist of one large tract or a collection of nearby, independently owned parcels). In order to be eligible, farmland must meet several basic requirements and landowners must sign an agreement to preserve and promote agriculture in their communities. An Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural District (EVAD) additionally requires landowners to place their land under an irrevocable conservation easement restricting development (for 10 years or more).

What are the benefits of the VAD/EVAD program? 

Enrollment in the VAD/EVAD program provides landowners with access to many resources and economic benefits. Participants in the program may receive protection against nuisance suits, waived utility assessments, and educational materials. Furthermore, EVAD participants are eligible to receive up to 90% of cost share under the Ag-cost-share program.

To learn more about farmland preservation in Buncombe County, or to apply for the VAD/EVAD program, contact Ariel Ziip with Buncombe County Soil & Water or visit:

Farm Workshop: Fencing, Planning & Management for Multi-Species Rotational Grazing

Do you graze, plan to graze or lease out land? There are several challenges in grazing any animal. In this short course we will cover the physical realities of grazing cattle, goats/sheep and pigs. Rock Gremillion, WNC pastured pork producer, and Lauren Reker, goat specialist of KDES, will share their knowledge on what type of fencing to use, methods of watering, power sources, shelter and other challenges. On the management side of grazing, Sam Bingham will guide us through the Holistic Planning Process, producing a chart and map for the year’s planned grazing. We will include: how to prepare for variable weather, land challenges, and how to be flexible when a plan is changed or not working.

Space is limited. To register, or for more info, please contact Chris Link at or call 828.490.2565.


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