BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Kent County, Maryland, was
awarded top honors in the fourth annual edition of the "Best Places to Live
in Rural America" rankings by The Progressive Farmer magazine, released
today. Each year, the rankings name the top 10 rural counties in the
nation, according to several quality-of-life indicators and statistics; all
10 counties are profiled in the February 2008 issue of The Progressive
Farmer, and the top 500 rural counties are listed on the magazine's web
The top 10 rural counties are ranked based on rural quality-of-life
indicators such as great schools, access to health care, low crime and
affordable farmland. In 2008, the editors of The Progressive Farmer added
extra criteria by focusing on counties that have been able to protect
farmland, control growth pressure from urban and suburban areas, and strike
a good balance between agriculture, manufacturing and modern conveniences.
For instance, No. 1 Kent County has doggedly maintained its rural heritage
by preserving farmland, says Senior Editor Jamie Cole. "They have
determined there that the best use of their land is for farming. The level
of commitment to that idea is extraordinary.
"This year, we wanted to celebrate the people that make the places
special," says Cole. "We want to show what they're doing to keep their
rural counties rural. We hope other places-small towns, counties, rural
areas-that face these same challenges can find ideas through our list."
Debuting this year is the "Reader's Choice Award," where any of our
nation's 2,000-plus rural counties can solicit the most votes and win this
reader-driven distinction, which will be announced in August 2008. Voting
on http://www.progressivefarmer.com opens Feb. 1 and runs through May 31.
Web visitors can vote once a day and will be able to see real-time results.
"This is one of the most exciting additions this year," Cole adds. "Our
editorial staff is always inundated with e-mails and calls from readers
suggesting their county is the 'best place.' Now communities can prove it
by rallying together, showing their spirit and pride to elect their county
as our 'Reader's Choice' winner."
The Top 10 List of "Best Places to Live in Rural America"
1. Kent County, Md., was selected as the best place to live in rural
America this year. The county of 20,000 residents was chosen in part
because of its commitment to preserving the county's rural roots, despite
being within driving distance to Washington, D.C., Baltimore and
Philadelphia. A testament to this long-term planning is the stately
farmhouses-many dating pre-Civil War-that dot the countryside and the
average local who can trace his or her ancestry to the Revolutionary War.
Many local farmers have sold development rights of their land to the state
to keep sprawl at bay.
In order, the other counties selected among the top 10 "Best Places to
Live in Rural America" are:
2. Ellis County, Kan. -- Located between Kansas City and Denver, this
county is known for its frontier spirit, with agriculture and oil
sustaining its economy. Like many agricultural areas, Ellis County saw hard
times in the 1980s, but has since revitalized the area by forming a
coalition to ensure economic vitality.
3. Livingston County, Mo. -- In the heart of this top-ranked county is
Chillicothe, an inventive and industrious town known as the "Home of Sliced
Bread." This can-do attitude extends past the town's city limits and can be
seen through a regional marketing plan that attracted employers and
residents to the county through services that make the area more livable as
4. Obion County, Tenn. -- This sprawling rural county is a place where
agriculture and industry go hand in hand, forming a strong economy despite
little or no population growth. The county also features great schools,
great farmland and legendary wildlife populations.
5. Columbia County, Penn. -- Located near New York, New Jersey and
Philadelphia, Columbia County is certainly facing development pressures.
But conservation easements and agricultural security areas are helping
preserve farming for future generations.
6. Wexford County, Mich. -- Set amid rolling meadows and thick forests,
this county and its habitants are adaptable, migrating their industry from
primarily lumber and small farms to Christmas tree production and tourism.
It's this adaptability that has helped Wexford County flourish over the
7. Fayette County, Texas -- Fayette County is prime cattle country,
ranking as the top in the state for beef cow numbers and herds. Winters are
mild, and blankets of wildflowers cover the fields and hills in the spring.
8. Coffee County, Ala. -- If overcoming challenges is a criterion for
our list this year, this top 10 county has certainly done that. In fact, a
statue of a woman holding a boll weevil sits squarely downtown as a tribute
to the insect that forced Coffee County to become economically diversified.
The town is also recovering and rebuilding from a destructive tornado that
hit a year ago, but will keep on thriving, thanks to a tight-knit
9. Gilchrist County, Fla. -- Urban development is fast approaching this
scenic and wildlife-rich county, which shares a boundary with the county
housing the University of Florida. However, Gilchrist County is trying to
protect its rural areas with acre requirements for homesites.
10. La Plata County, Co. -- Gorgeous scenery, abundant wildlife, a
booming economy and friendly, welcoming locals would put this county on
anyone's top 10 list. It made our list in part due to its alliance for
educating locals on how to buy locally grown food and its work on zoning
In addition to the new Reader's Choice Award, The Progressive Farmer
web site (http://www.ProgressiveFarmer.com) also features commenting. This
allows visitors to post their thoughts and personal stories on the 500
counties making the complete list. Also featured is the ever-popular "Find
Your OWN Best Place," which allows web visitors to create a list of
preferred locales based on personal preferences such as climate and
recreational amenities. Plus, through a partnership with United Country
Real Estate, users can search for homes and farms available for sale in
counties on the list.
About The Progressive Farmer magazine and web site
Living the good life in the country is a passion for 40 million-plus
landowners who take great pride in their land, farm and family. That's why
The Progressive Farmer (http://www.ProgressiveFarmer.com)-the largest
magazine and web site for landowners and farmers-publishes practical,
useful information to help our 3.7 million readers get MORE from their life
on the land.
The Progressive Farmer, now owned by real-time market information
services leader DTN, is available by subscription only and can be ordered
by calling 1-800-292-2340 or visiting http://www.ProgressiveFarmer.com.
DTN, a private company based in Omaha, Neb., is the leading
business-to- business provider of real-time market, news and weather
information services to agriculture, energy trading markets and other
weather-sensitive industries. The company delivers on-demand market
information, commodity cash prices, industry news and in-depth analysis,
and location-specific weather to more than 120,000 subscribers through DTN
for agriculture, refined fuels and trading markets, and DTN/Meteorlogix.
More information can be found at http://www.dtn.com.
SOURCE The Progressive Farmer