Farmland series part 3: subdivisions meet farm fields

Delaware County has the fastest growing population in the state. Oftentimes, subdivisions are built right next to fully functioning farms. The close quarters have led to some unique neighborly relations.

Louise Martin’s back yard bumps right up against a cornfield. The corn is grown to feed cows at the neighboring dairy. And the odors that occasionally waft over are among the many things Martin wasn’t exactly bargaining for when her family traded urban living for a quiet cul-de-sac in rural Delaware County.

Just past the rows of corn, farmer Mike Hope and his brother operate an 80 head dairy. His family has been farming here since 1961 but he says they don’t expect to last much longer. Not long ago, Hope actually farmed the land where Martin’s home now stands. Now he says he’s surrounded by subdivisions.

Hope says it’s just gotten gradually more difficult to farm in this area with new homes popping up all the time, and traffic now zooming by on what once was a small country road. A big challenge he says is moving his tractor from one field to another. He finds himself dodging mail boxes and hurried cars in his lumbering wide farm equipment.

Ohio State Associate Professor of Rural Sociology Jeff Sharp, says more and more, farmers are reaching out to their non-farm neighbors. Sharp recently surveyed farmers and their neighbors in rural central Ohio counties. The solution he discovered, is simple. The best way to resolve conflicts, he says, is good old conversation. In most cases folks just need to get to know their neighbors.

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