What Makes a Farm a Farm? | Back Talk | Indy Week

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What Makes a Farm a Farm?

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Last week, we wrote about a debate raging in rural Orange County about what constitutes a farm, and whether people should be allowed to erect events spaces on farmland ["Bought the Farm," David Hudnall].

Commenter ProudlyAffiliated doesn't see a problem with that: "So let me get this straight—neighbors expect the new owners to abide not by the law, but by whatever unwritten rules they feel will protect their cherished way of life. And they expect the government and the public to have sympathy for them because of their history and pedigree? The term 'landed gentry' comes to mind. Not too surprising. Welcome to the South, y'all. On the plus side, it sounds like most of these dinosaur neighbors will be dead in a few years. And they say entitlement and privilege is limited to millennial narcissists. Bless their hearts."

But sbeeman isn't buying it: "Agritourism in North Carolina was intended to help real farmers and their existing farms diversify and become more financially resilient by relaxing zoning regulations, not to allow commercial businesses to work around existing zoning laws by pretending to be farms. Southeast Property Group bought some land that had not been farmed in years and was entirely wooded. The only way for the Brewers and Southeast Property Group to build their commercial wedding and event center on this property was to either obtain a special-use permit (which Orange County refused to grant them) or to meet one of the criteria to become a bona fide farm. Even though there was no farm—just woods—on the property, Southeast Property Group was able to obtain a Farm Service Agency number, thus meeting one of the criteria. At the time it received the number, the small flower bed, the chestnut saplings, and the rented beehives were not on the property. No farm, no barn storing equipment, nothing—just woods. If Southeast Property Group succeeds in building its event center, it will not be inviting people to visit their farm; it will be renting out their $735,000 'utility building' (complete with chandeliers and a bride's room) for 'elegant farm weddings.' Zoning laws exist for a reason."

Commenter aLoHa 1 thinks this project could be a good thing: "Here we have one developer on one piece of land solving a growing demand for the next sector of the farm-to-table. In my mind, the property isn't just going to be a nest of angry hornets who use the land as a resting place commuting and rushing about breaking speed limits through neighborhoods while on their cell phones. It's a destination where people will travel to cultivate the next generation and forming unions. The one thing that personally seemed gross to me is the article set a scene where the writer was graciously welcomed on the property by the owner who suspected no ill intent."

In last week's Triangulator, we ran a piece essentially declaring—after the NCAA bailed on North Carolina over HB 2—that the governor's race was over. Several readers echoed the sentiments of Tamara L. Bennett, who told us not to "count your proverbial chickens before they're hatched. Don't give Dems reason to think they can stay home. Nothing is assured in this insane election cycle."

"I would love to think so," adds Mark Wells, "but there are a lot of red counties out there full of people very concerned about the genitalia near them in the goddamned bathroom, economic outcomes be damned."

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