Many small, rural communities in North Dakota are challenged by declining investment and an out-migration of young households. To support economic development and curb rural de-population, Strengthen ND has designed a project named Building Resilient Farm Country. Building Resilient Farm Country is a model to repopulate and expand economic opportunity for rural North Dakota by building the local food and micro-farm sectors. Building Resilient Farm Country utilizes one of North Dakota’s most ample resources, abandoned or idle farmsteads, by making them available for aspiring small farm producers with a support system.
By repopulating abandoned farmsteads and mentoring new and aspiring farmers, economic development will be spurred in rural North Dakota, both locally and at the state level, as the farmers purchase fuel, groceries, farm equipment, fertilizer, seed and other necessary goods. Additionally, as a result of repopulated farmsteads, a broader base of individuals will be available to serve as a workforce, become small business owners and entrepreneurs and increase populations in rural school districts.
With the support of dollars from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Strengthen ND will employ three specific strategies, including:
Assemble a local advisory committee comprised of stakeholders from across the region to support successful project implementation. It is anticipated that the advisory committee will convene at least six times throughout the length of the project to provide insight, connections and potential resources. In addition to primary advisory committee members, several partner agencies will be engaged with representatives from each county commission, USDA-Rural Development, local agriculture lenders and other local leaders targeted.
Inventory & Assessment of Farmsteads
Create an inventory and complete an assessment of flooded and vacant/idle farmsteads in Renville, Bottineau, McHenry, Rolette, Pierce, Towner, Benson and Cavalier counties and the Spirit Lake Nation and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa reservations that share their borders. The assessment of each flooded and abandoned farmstead will consist of evaluating their available resources, including water and road access, proximity to a community, type of growing conditions present and other applicable items.
Create a localized assessment of the barriers to farming and resources available for Native American, New American and other potential farmers in north central North Dakota.
The outcomes of the inventory and assessments mentioned above may spur the need and feasibility of phase 2 of the initiative, which may or may not include: