Chester County ranks second among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties in agricultural production, and 53rd out of the 3,000 counties in the nation. Because of this, the agricultural industry continues to play a vital role in Chester County’s economy and culture. This month, our highlighted eTools focus on a few ways to support the agricultural industry within Chester County.
One common way to fit the needs of both the agricultural industry and the community is through Farmers’ Markets. Farmers’ Markets are outlets where local farmers, growers, food producers, and artisans can sell their products to members of the community, and sometimes even beyond. They can exist in a variety of locations, including urban centers and suburban parks, as well as in rural areas where there’s enough demand. Often times, Farmers’ Markets can help build the community by becoming a gathering place for those who wish to engage with others and learn more about local agricultural products.
Many farmers in Chester County rely on Secondary Farm Businesses to supplement their income, diversify risk, and bring the next generation into the current operation. Generally, these businesses occur as part of the farm but are subordinate to the farm’s primary operation. Examples of secondary farm businesses include corn mazes and hay rides, welding and woodworking shops, and seasonal activities such a pick-your-own produce and vineyard tours. When run successfully, secondary farm businesses help stabilize the agricultural industry year-round.
With the need for farmers, comes the need for housing. Farmworker Housing is quality, affordable housing built specifically to accommodate the needs of farmworkers and their families in Chester County. This can be done in a number of ways, such as through government subsidized housing, grower provided or supported housing, or through a private source. Supporting the vitality of local agricultural businesses and ensuring safe and stable opportunities for their employees will assist Chester County’s farmers in maintaining successful farming operations.
The Planning Commission’s eTools cover a wide array of planning topics from natural resources to economic development. The tools are easy to read, providing a quick overview of each topic, a brief explanation of how it works, and considerations for addressing the topic or regulating use. An alphabetical listening of eTools is available in our Municipal Corner.