The Progressive Farmer magazine has released its annual rankings of best places to live in rural counties. The selection is based on school quality, access to health care, low crime, and affordable farmland.
This year extra credit was offered to counties that have successfully protected farmland, controlled pressure from urban areas and struck a balance among agriculture, manufacturing, and modern convenience.
Progressive’s 2008 top 10 best places to live in rural America are:
1. Kent County, Md. Sales of development rights keep sprawl at bay.
2. Ellis County, Kan. A coalition has revitalized economic vitality.
3. Livingston County, Mo. Emphasis on regional marketing has made the area more livable.
4. Obion County, Tenn. Agriculture and industry have formed a great partnership.
5. Columbia County, Pa. Located near New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, this area has focused on preserving farming for generations.
6. Wexford County, Mich. Christmas tree production and tourism has overtaken lumber and general farming to help this area flourish.
7. Fayette County, Texas. This area remains prime cattle ranching country.
8. Coffee County, Ala. Between boll weevils and tornados, this territory has been tested and comes out a winner.
9. Gilchrist County, Fla. This area is hard-pressed by sprawl, but its land restrictions have so far kept out developers.
10. La Plata County, Colo. This county has successfully educated urban locals about the importance of locally grown food.
Source: The Progressive Farmer