Photo by John C. Lorson


The vision for the award-winning Land Use Actions project came about in 2019, when the stakeholder-driven Wayne County (Ohio) comprehensive planning process was finalized. The resulting plan identified goals for balanced land use and managed growth in Wayne County. Wayne County is fortunate to have a strong agricultural presence, ranking 3rd in the state for agricultural production. The county also boasts a diversity of food processing and manufacturing in the community. While this diversity is an asset, it is also a challenge to manage the development of farmland and open space to meet the needs of the community, while facing a growing population.

Rural counties are rapidly losing farmland and open space, which can have a direct impact on quality of life and food security. Many community stakeholders wanted to support balanced land use in Wayne County but were not clear on how to engage and take action. Bringing in new partners to identify voluntary, collaborative approaches to manage growth would be critical for the County plan to succeed.

The Solution

A workshop was created to inspire collaboration around balanced land use, engage new stakeholders, and spur new dialogue and partnerships. With partial funding from a grant from Ohio State University’s Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT), a steering committee was formed to organize the workshop, consisting of Wayne County Farm Bureau; OSU Extension; OSU College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; Wayne County Planning; and Sustainable Economies Consulting LLC.

The in-person workshop was initially scheduled for March 13, 2020. Due to the pandemic, instead a virtual, four-part workshop series took place September through December 2020. The steering committee put considerable time into selecting a diversity of speakers – 16 total – to represent a multitude of perspectives and backgrounds.

The workshop series was considered a success with about 50-80 participants registering for each session. The attendees included a diverse group of stakeholders who in many cases had not worked together previously. The discussions with those who participated in the seminar series indicate that the series succeeded in building new partnerships around balanced land use.

Further, the project won a national award, a County Activities of Excellence award from The American Farm Bureau Federation. The prize was a grant to send participants from Wayne County to the 2022 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention and Trade Show in Atlanta.

Land use planning an underused tool for farmland preservation – An article from 2022 by Elizabeth Schuster in the Ohio Country Journal, showing the findings and lessons learned from the project.


Land Use Actions Brown Bag Seminar Series

Wayne County, Ohio


Ohio State University, OARDC, OSU Extension, InFACT, Wayne County Farm Bureau, Wayne County Planning

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