Yet, at this time where the food growing potential (and water quality protection, more dire projections here) of the Reserve is more important than ever, the singular purpose of the Agriculture Reserve is being questioned. ZTA 20-01 would allow 3 square miles of commercial solar arrays with no real protections for forests, productive soils or water quality. What's more - the economic impact won't even be studied as part of this proposal - even though landowners report offers for their land 10-20 times what farmers are paying and some farmers are reporting the loss of lease contracts as the result of this ZTA even being proposed. (60% of Reserve farming is done on leased land).
The Reserve has a role to play in meeting carbon mitigation goals, including reforestation efforts and scaling up regenerative agriculture practices. But as the threats of warming become more and more concrete, this area set aside for Agriculture is a strategic investment in just that - growing our food in a rapidly warming world.