I am a big fan of facts. Recently, the Association to Preserve Cape Cod released a whole slew of them in their report on agricultural land use. Here are the highlights:
Acres in cultivation—
- in 1925, there were almost 36,000 acres of farmland in Barnstable County
- by 1969, that number had dropped to 5,324, a loss of nearly 85%
- today, the APCC estimates there are only 4,269 acres, including aquaculture
- Our farms are small! the smallest is .19 acres
- 29% of our farms are smaller than 5 acres
- 66% are smaller than 10 acres
- there are only 10 farms bigger than 75 acres
- surprisingly, there is one parcel of farmland that is 228 acres
- the state has identified 12 types of "prime" loam on the Cape
- interestingly, we aren't farming much of it
- only 13% of our farms are on prime agricultural land!
- 60% of our farmers are over 55
- most have no one to take over the farm when they move on
Prominent historical agricultural products, by town—
- Brewster—fiber, wood
- Eastham—asparagus, turnips, carrots, and cranberries
- Falmouth—strawberries, oysters, cranberries, and cattle
- Orleans—ducks and cranberries
- Sandwich—grain, dairy, and woodlands
- Truro—grain, fiber, and cattle
- Yarmouth—cranberries and shellfish
It's worth reading through the whole report—you can find it right here. There's a lot of interesting history in there—for instance, did you know that Falmouth used to be the biggest producer of strawberries east of the Mississippi and north of Maryland?!
It's also worth taking the time to check out the maps. You can see where the prime agricultural land is in your area, and how much of it is being farmed. (Not much, in most cases).
The APCC is doing a lot of work to preserve these prime areas as farmland in perpetuity. You can learn more about protection programs over here. Maybe your land qualifies!