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Farmland Preservation Program logo, this program was created to encourage the preservation & protection of farmlands in Buncombe County.

Farmland Preservation Program

Encouraging the preservation & protection of farmlands in Buncombe County.

The Buncombe County Farmland Preservation Program's purpose is to encourage the voluntary preservation of farm and forestland from development, to support economic viability of agriculture, and to help navigate farm succession in Buncombe County. The program is administered by two staff members of the Buncombe Soil and Water Conservation District and includes the development and holding of permanent conservation easements on working farms and forests; the administration of the Voluntary Agricultural Districts (VAD) and Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural Districts (EVAD) programs; and conducting services that support and promote local agricultural viability.

This work is tied to ordinances, plans, and goals set by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners (BOC) - the first of which is the Farmland Preservation Ordinance. This ordinance was the first of its kind to be adopted in the state by the BOC in 1989. The ordinance created the Agricultural Advisory Board as a way for local farmers to represent their community needs by serving on the Board. This Board reviews, makes recommendations, and votes on applications for Voluntary Agricultural Districts, Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural Districts, and conservation easements. In addition to the Agricultural Advisory Board, the Land Conservation Advisory Board oversees conservation easement projects in the County by serving as a link between the County and our non-profit conservation agencies such as land trusts in the region.

In 2020, the County adopted an updated Farmland Protection Plan to research the current state of agriculture in Buncombe and make recommendations for enhancing its viability. In 2020, the Board adopted the 2025 Strategic Plan that includes a goal to “Preserve farmland and environmentally sensitive tracts”. Lastly in 2022, the Board created a land conservation goal to "Initiate the protection of 20% of Buncombe County by 2030." This goal is modelled after President Biden's 30x30 land conservation goal.

In an effort to showcase the importance of land conservation in Buncombe County, our staff has put together this interactive story map, use the link below to learn more!

Preservation Programs

Place your land into a conservation easement or an Agricultural District.

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program

Conservation easements (CEs) are an effective way of protecting farms, forests, wildlife habitat, and natural resources from development. A conservation easement is a legally binding agreement between a landowner and qualified conservation organization in which development on a property is restricted into perpetuity. These restrictions are recorded in an easement deed that are tied to a property even as it changes ownership. They are designed to keep land available for farm, forestry, habitat, and water quality protection by keeping it in its natural state.

Buncombe County is able to hold conservation easements on farms and forests in the County through the Farmland Preservation Ordinance. Our program’s easements are designed to protect Buncombe’s rural landscape including land with high prime agricultural soils, rich in water resources, sloped forests and mountainous tracts, and other environmentally sensitive features.

Easement Landowner Packet contains information about the following:

  • Conservation Easement Basics 
  • Things to consider when making this decision 
  • Potential tax/financial benefits 
  • Restrictions and retained rights 
  • Steps in the easement process

If you are interested in an easement but unsure if it’s right for you, we still encourage you to submit the application below. We can then reach out to you and discuss if this is the right option for you!

Voluntary Ag Districts (VAD) and Enhanced Voluntary Ag Districts (EVAD)

Farmland Preservation Program, protected forever logo. This program was created to encourage the preservation & protection of farmlands in Buncombe County.

The purpose of the VAD/EVAD program is to encourage the voluntary preservation of farmland from non-farm development. The program aims to recognize working farms and provide public awareness about what to expect when living in an agricultural community. By doing this, the program aims to decrease the likelihood of legal disputes tied to the sights, smells or sounds related to an agricultural operation between farmers and their neighbors.

To learn more about this program or to apply, please use the links below.

Member of the Farmland Preservation District logo. The program aims to recognize and provide public education about agriculture in our community


Explore and learn more about Buncombe County's working farms.

The Farm Heritage Trail

A scenic driving route through the rural agricultural communities of northwest Buncombe County.

The Farm Heritage Trail has an ongoing calendar of events, hikes, farm to table dinners, educational opportunities and fun activities for the entire family throughout the year.

The Farm Heritage Trail project received funding through a Buncombe County Community Recreation Grant.

Buncombe County Friends of Agriculture Events

Buncombe County hosts several Friends of Agriculture events a year to bring our ag-minded community together every so often. We hope that these events provide a networking opportunity for the ag community and a time to discuss any topics or issues that are relevant to agriculture. We try to rotate the event locations around the County and in our rural communities to make them accessible for everyone. These events are free to attend and include a complimentary meal.

A big thanks to our sponsors:

  • Buncombe County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Buncombe Cooperative Extension
  • AgSouth Farm Credit
  • Buncombe County Farm Bureau

Sign up for our Soil and Water newsletter to find out about the next Friends of Agriculture event!

Visit NC Farms

The Visit NC Farms App is a statewide agritourism app that aims to connect residents to their local producers across North Carolina. Using cell phone technology, residents and visitors can find farms closest to them with products and activities that interest them. Visitors can use the app to explore farms, farmers markets and local restaurants that are off the beaten path and unique to each community.

Check out this video to learn how to navigate the Visit NC Farms App!

What places are included in the app?

  • Farms and fisheries
  • Pick-your-own farms
  • Farmers markets
  • Local goods and food pantries
  • Restaurants
  • Events

What is a farm experience?

  • Educational tours
  • Pick-your-own and farm stands
  • Farm stays
  • Special events

*Farms that are open to the public may offer one or more of the activities listed

Ready to connect to your community?

  • Download the app today and check out the video above to learn how to use it! Turn on notifications for updates on events happening nearby!

Locate & Contact

Soil & Water Conservation District


Ariel Zijp
Farmland Preservation Manager
P: (828) 250-4794

Avni Naik
Farmland Preservation Coordinator
P: (828) 250-4792

Soil & Water Conservation District
49 Mount Carmel Road, Suite 101
Asheville, NC 28806