Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Recognition and Tools: Adaptive Reuse of Farm Buildings
Although most farmers seek advice from local cooperative extension service and United States Department of Agriculture offices, few have traditionally worked with historic preservation groups. Organizations including the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service encourage collaboration between various entities interested in agricultural building and landscape protection. The fall 2010 edition of the National Trust’s Forum Journal, entitled “Bridging Land Conservation and Historic Preservation,” discusses the challenges and opportunities such partnerships may present. The National Trust partnered with Successful Farming magazine to encourage agricultural building reuse by providing farmers with accessible training and technical assistance.
Aesthetically-pleasing farms with interesting and well-maintained outbuildings tend to draw more visitors. In Historic Barns: Working Assets for Sustainable Farms, also available as a free download from the National Trust’s web site, author and small farmer Edward Hoogterp identifies economic benefits of the ongoing use of historic agricultural buildings. These include cost savings, energy efficiency, appropriate scale, organic materials and niche marketing opportunities. He suggests that preservation groups and farmers should work together to explore the relationship between the historic, esthetic and economic value of outbuildings. The goal is to achieve the most efficient, environmentally-friendly and cost-effective working landscapes.
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I had not heard of this proposal. It is good to know that the buildings are being considered. We have spent much time and resources to preserve the old farm buildings and homes on our property. We have done this work with no monetary assistance from the county or state; however, we have preserved a large barn, an old log barn, a small log barn and other small structures.
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