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“New England has great potential to improve its food and energy security, reduce its carbon footprint, and sustain its family farms by increasing production and consumption of regional food, farm and forest products."

— Cris Coffin New England Director, American Farmland Trust

Keep New England Farmland in Farming: A Regional Convening
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Regional Maps and What They Might Tell Us About the Future of New England Agriculture

Map: New England Agricultural Land

This map, from the 2012 Cropland Data layer, shows where there are active agricultural lands. It has been further refined by displaying those grown on areas of Important Farmland Soils (designated by USDA NRCS and partners) and those grown on other soils.  The map shows that most of agriculture is on the best soils with some on areas of other soils. 

Forest LandMap: New England Forest Land

This map shows areas of forest land cover growing on important farmland soils as well as other soils.  Important farmland soils are somewhat of a misnomer, important farmland soils need not currently be in farmland, only that they have the physical, chemical, and landscape properties to grow common crops in a sustainable manor.  The map shows that there are considerable areas of important farmland soils covered by forest. 

Map: Major New England Crops

In this map extensive dataset of national crops from the National Agricultural Statistics Service have been taken and consolidated into only common crops in New England.  The map shows areas of specialty crops like potatoes in northern Maine, cranberries in Massachusetts, and fruits and vegetables in the Connecticut Valley. In some areas these crops vary from year to year as per crop rotations, market demands etc.  Dr. Sherri DeFaux (Penn State) and Dr. Tim Griffin (Tufts) have done some very exciting work on the dynamic nature of these cropping patterns.  This map can be used to help plan for infrastructure, training, outreach, markets, etc.

Protection StatusMap: New England Agricultural Lands Protection Status

This map displays agricultural lands that have been protected by purchase or easement and those unprotected.  Some Ag communities have done a good job of clustering protected farms, in other areas very little has been protected.  Of course in some parts of Maine there is little development pressure, so less needs to protect.  Other areas show there may be a need for additional efforts and/or resources.  The map does not show whole farms protected, just the cropland portion protected.

Map:  New England Population Trends,  2000-2010

Although we have been in an economic downturn with less development pressure, signs of an upturn in development are there.  It is expect that the next wave of development will continue in the pattern you see in this population trend map.  Considerable increases in population in those 1-3 ring suburbs from urban areas.  Many of these areas still have considerable agricultural lands (shown in black) and grow many specialty crops.  This map can be used to help target communities to work on land use planning to reduce conversion as well as where increased agricultural economic development may help increase the population in rural areas.

Focus AreaMap: New England Conservation Focus Areas 

Agricultural lands are also expected to provide critical habitat, forest products, scenic vistas, recreation, and quality of life.  This map displays many of the existing Federal, State and nonprofit initiative that exist.  Let’s use these joint interests on these important landscapes to leverage funds for easements, outreach to landowners, and create better stewardship.



Maps created by Aaron Dushku, GIS Specialist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service- Massachusetts office, in consultation with Cris Coffin, Kip Kolesinskas, and Rebecca de Sa of American Farmland Trust.  2013




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American Farmland Trust