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"Wait what is the Ag Reserve?" - We hear this a whole lot, even from people who live close by. We do a lot of outreach to show the importance of protecting farms on Metro's edge but the most fun way to raise awareness is through events that connect people to the wonder of this place.
But Wait! Attending Field and Fiddle makes you an MCA member - members get discounts on.....
Save the Date! This will be the 11th year that cyclists from all over the region have saddled up to bike the Rustic Roads of the Ag Reserve. There are routes of varying lengths for the hard core or the sunday biker - including a 10mi family loop. All routes culminate in a sumptuous picnic lunch and your registration protects the Reserve as a haven for farms, open space and of course, biking. All current MCA members get the member rate on registration.
Woah - Let's Get This Right
We are working hard to sort out a lot initiatives coming out of Rockville that will need some work. And we could use your action. Your voice matters.
These three zoning text amendments are problematic as written:
There is a another issue we are carefully tracking: In late June, a final Council vote is expected on the Ten-Year Water and Sewer Plan. At issue are the rules by which the County switches a property or cluster of properties from septic to sewer service. Since sewer lines may promote sprawl and urbanization which damages clean water supplies, it's crucial that we keep unnecessary sewer lines out of the Ag Reserve and its low-density residential buffer.
Please add your voice by sending a quick email by May 8! cut and paste from below – Please personalize if you can. Please share with others.
Send to: County.Council@MontgomeryCountyMD.gov
Dear Council and Planning Board Members,
I support the continued careful stewardship of our County’s rural and agricultural land and communities. In keeping with that goal, I am writing to ask that you take the following actions:
1. ZTA 18-03 Approve with MCA recommended amendments
2. ZTA 18-01 Approve with MCA recommended amendments
3. ZTA 18-04 Oppose
I support the collaborative efforts of Montgomery Countryside Alliance and partners in working toward legislative amendments that will ensure that zoning changes are supportive of our master plans, environmental protection, and will advance a vital and diverse agricultural and rural economy. Please engage in careful planning for the County’s renewable energy and climate change response goals prior to major zoning changes that will affect other preservation efforts. I do not support extension of commercial solar array installations in the Ag Reserve, beyond the current provision of 120% solar generation, before the County conducts planning.
Thanks for your consideration.
Moreover, I thank the Councilmembers (Hucker, Berliner, Riemer, Elrich, and Navarro) who voted on March 20 in a straw vote for the Elrich Amendment to the County’s 10 Year Water and Sewer Plan. We urge these Councilmembers and their colleagues to vote for clean water in the final vote in June.
Thanks for your consideration.
<your name here>
Our recommended actions relating to these 3 zoning text amendments address three primary areas of concern:
The County is considering how to advance composting efforts across the county and has released a new report to guide that process. Removing food scraps from the waste stream just makes sense and helps reach the goal of reducing and recycling 70% of our waste county wide by 2020. Some stats to consider from this report:
MCA served on the On- Farm Composting Committee to help advance this strategic plan. Farms are an ideal facility to take on this waste and turn it into a resource. Anyone with a compost bin at home can tell you gross old food plus careful tending in partnership with worms and other creepy crawly helpers yields amazing soil amendments. We look forward to partnering to bring the plans in this report to fruition in a way that balances the needs of the whole community.
While it may take a while to turn these first steps into action county-wide, you can start composting more of your waste at home. And the County DEP even has free bins!
Together with our supporters and partners we have a lot of accomplishments to be proud of:
Update - May 1
The Council is still working on the details of the County's Ten Year Water and Sewer Plan. They are making sure that home owners with septic systems in rural residential areas have all the tools needed should they experience or clearly be at risk of septic failure. Important stuff.
Council will take this up again in June. Stay tuned...
The Montgomery County Council today voted 5-4 in favor of the Elrich Amendment to the Water and Sewer Plan.
This is good news for our rural communities and Ag Reserve. The Elrich Amendment is aimed at preventing unnecessary sewer sprawl, which threatens our clean stream areas with higher-density urban development, sewage spills, leaky sewer pipes, and stormwater pollution. Cheers to those who took action and our partners including West Montgomery Civic Asso., Conservation Montgomery, MC Sierra Club, Potomac Conservancy, Audubon Naturalist Society. 🌟Our core team: Diane Cameron, Ken Bawer and Susanne Lee. The best!
Some Ag Reserve Luminaries are taking an a tasty project - Bread and Beauty is a cookbook that celebrates the history, present and future of the Ag Reserve. 120 recipes mix with stories and essays about what makes this working landscape on metro's edge special. The book is slated to come out this summer but you can make the project a reality by pre-ordering your copy today. A percentage of the book's proceeds benefit MCA and also Manna Food Center. More info is on their Bread & Beauty site and their Facebook page.
"We are sure it will become a lasting (and hopefully stain-spattered) record of the people, places, and flavors of the Ag Reserve.”
Montgomery County has expanded their green business certification program to recognize farm operations certified through the USDA Organic and/or Certified Naturally Grown programs. Certified farms will now be included in the County’s Green Business Directory along with approximately 80 other businesses.
The Farms certified under this program are (more are currently applying to the program):
Tanya of Passion to Seed Gardening was linked with land through Land Link - she will be applying to be certified through this Green Business.
Montgomery County's Ag Reserve, comprised of nearly 106,000 acres, is one-third of the County's land mass and provides local food/fiber, environmental and economic benefits for our region. No surprise then, that voters are interested to hear what both incumbents and seat seekers have to say about their vision for and thoughts about this special place.
Much like in the 2014 election, MCA has again put 9 questions about the Reserve, land use, farming, water quality and transportation to the many candidates vying to represent Montgomery County at the local and state level. As a 501c3 nonprofit - MCA can not endorse but we seek to provide information on where the candidates stand.
Below are the unedited questionnaires received from each candidate who returned them by the deadline, we are grateful to those who took the time in the busy election season. Check your voting status and find your sample ballot with all candidates here.
County Council At-Large
The next in a mid-winter series on how to turn the less popular veggies available at your local market or CSA box into real food, cooked simply that you would like to eat and your children or other picky family members may try as well (no guarantees). MCA staffer Kristina Bostick subscribes to a year-round CSA and shares how to cope when there is just too much ___. Find the other posts: Broccoli, Cauliflower and Acorn Squash.
What is the Women For The Land Program?
The Women For The Land Program brings groups of 15-20 women landowners together with conservation and technical staff (mostly women) for three sessions over approximately two months. An experienced facilitator guides this Conservation Learning Circle through a well-developed agenda. AFT invites agency staff to participate as presenters and active participants in the conversation, addressing issues and questions in real time. The peer-to-peer women-only program provides an opportunity to learn from each other, gain confidence, and to obtain technical/financial assistance to protect your land's natural resources. These sessions are designed for women landowners who own, rent and make management decisions on their Maryland forest and farm land. AFT is operating this program in five states including Maryland.
Who is the core audience for a Women For The Land program?
Women who own farm or forest land in Maryland, who may recently have come into ownership or taken on new responsibilities for operational decisions on their land. Some have families that are facing decisions about the future of the farm. Others need to find a new tenant to lease their land. For various reasons, some women are less familiar with the programs, agencies and individuals who can assist them. Despite their challenging situations, women landowners have strong ideas on how they want their land managed. They have proven to be highly-motivated and receptive to information and assistance once they learn what is available. AFT sees these women as ideal partners in conservation and land protection and has developed the Women For The Land program to offer targeted support,
We ran across an interview from a few years ago with Button Farm Living History Center's Tony Cohen and had to share. Tony is a Royce Hanson Award winner for his efforts to bring history to life in the Reserve. He spoke to WYPR's "The Signal" about representing an unvarnished view of plantation life and the Underground Railroad. Take a listen.
The next in a mid-winter series on how to turn the less popular veggies available at your local market or CSA box into real food, cooked simply that you would like to eat and your children or other picky family members may try as well (no guarantees). MCA staffer Kristina Bostick subscribes to a year-round CSA and shares how to cope when there is just too much ___. Find the other posts: Broccoli and Acorn Squash
First - let me say that the world seems to be coming around to cauliflower right now. Its having a bit of a moment, the way kale did a couple years back. One school of thought would be to say, "Back off Pinterest, you can't tell me what to eat!" But think of it this way, when a vegetable is popular, it just means that the top chefs, food bloggers and cookbook writers are all working on the best ways to work with it. That is to be celebrated, and you - mere mortal home cook who needs to get something on the table - benefit from that trendiness with the plethora of recipes and shortcuts that result. Cauliflower is not as strong a flavor as broccoli, it is more of a blank slate - but similarly, it will benefit from being roasted and never ever will taste good boiled till mush. Some things you can do:
2. Roast the Whole Dang Thing I have not done this but find it very appealing as a family style meal that you slice into like a roast.
3. Cauliflower Rice Yet another on-trend use of Cauliflower. You can even find "pre-riced" cauliflower in grocery stores now. The earthines of the cauliflower is delightful in fried rice. If you are watching your carbs this is a great recipe for you.
2018 and our Education Program is off to a great start with "farmer in classroom" sessions underway. This year we have featured several remarkable women farmers, including Courtney Buchholtz and Amanda Cather as we bring farming and land stewardship to students at several County public high schools. Of course, our Education Committee Chair Gene Kingsbury is on hand to help provide the vantage point of a multi-generation farm, Kingsbury's Orchard. The importance of the County's Ag Reserve and how it came to be, is a key part of the lesson. In addition to in class lessons, students come on farm and in field to learn first hand about what it is to farm and how the Reserve serves to protect natural resources. The best part? The insightful and thought provoking questions from the students. Bright minds. Bright future.
We are keen on seeing that these lessons make their way to more schools throughout the County. Stay tuned!
Poolesville High School Field Trips to Black HIll Regional Park
Montgomery County's Ag Reserve, comprised of nearly 106,000 acres, is one-third of the County's land mass and provides local food/fiber, environmental and economic benefits for our region. No surprise then, that folks (voters) are interested to hear what both incumbents and seat seekers have to say about their vision for and thoughts about this special place.
Much like in the 2014 election, MCA has again put questions about the Reserve, land use, farming, water quality and transportation to the many candidates vying to represent Montgomery County at the local and state level. All candidates who complete the 9 question survey by March 7 will have their unedited answers published here. The survey answers are meant to be a guide to candidate positions to help voters find representatives that will uphold their concerns about issues facing local farms, water quality and open space.
A large and diverse group of stakeholders (ASAC) has been tasked by MC Planning Department to tackle the issue of how best to allow Agricultural Reserve farms to engage in agritourism. Historically, we think of agritourism as hayrides, corn mazes and pick your own but agritourism is evolving to include on farm events such as weddings and parties as well as other activities. Breweries and wineries have been growing in popularity, bringing residents to farms and providing much needed capital to advance their businesses. Sounds great, right? But the details remain. And for farmers and communities, those details matter. Farmers need clarity and consistency on what their rights and responsibilities are. Historic rural communities seek protection from farmland turning to intense event/tourism use without necessary safeguards for sound, traffic etc. So...
The ASAC will:
...examine various aspects of agritourism, including events held on farms, wineries, breweries, produce stands and farm-to-table offerings, to understand the land use regulations associated with these activities. It will look at applicable sections of the county’s zoning ordinance and its subdivision regulations to determine if modifications in policy are needed to provide clarity and direction for property owners.
More on the study.
MCA believes that, with proper standards, agritourism will be of benefit to farmers, rural communities and County residents. The key will be ensuring proper proportion of the elements that will be affected, broadly labeled as:
Maintaining balance, ensuring appropriate flexibility, and ensuring that the accessory agritourism uses support and not unduly conflict with the conduct of diverse agriculture, existing rural communities, infrastructure capability, environmental resource protection goals is a worthy collaborative objective.
Even more bills are being considered on Agritourism in Annapolis
Take a moment to support HB 766/SB 610 to improve Maryland's Forest Conservation Act!
We are passing along an action alert from our partners at Chesapeake Bay Foundation and League of Conservation Voters.
Maryland has made a commitment to increase forest land, both under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and the Bay Agreement. Forests are also the most beneficial and cost-effective way to protect Maryland’s air and water quality. Yet we continue to suffer devastating net losses because of a weak Forest Conservation Act (FCA). If the State has any chance of retaining and increasing forest land, the Act must be updated and improved before it’s too late.
The short story: There are far too many loopholes and exemptions that let forests (particularly "priority forests") be cutback more severely and un-replaced when they are cut. To achieve our goals for water and air quality, trees are a key tool. But the act that decrees what can be cut an what must be replanted is not as strong as it could be. Contact your state legislator today - trees matter!
She started farming in 2006, a career path that eventually led her to the Ag Reserve in 2013. Courtney is a graduate of the Montgomery County New Farmer Program and was matched with long term lease on local land through our Land Link program. Her produce is available through a CSA, the Silver Spring Farmers Market, and the Common Ground Market in Poolesville. You may also see her produce at Dawson’s Market in Rockville and the Common Market in Frederick.
The next in a mid-winter series on how to turn the less popular veggies available at your local market or CSA box into real food, cooked simply that you would like to eat and your children or other picky family members may try as well (no guarantees). MCA staffer Kristina Bostick subscribes to a year-round CSA and shares how to cope when there is just too much ___. We've already taken on Broccoli. Now that the counter is free of squash, the crisper drawer says we will take on Cauliflower and Beets next. Stay tuned.
Squash is a great thing to get from either the Farmers Market or the CSA. It can sit on the counter for a few weeks while you use up the other more perishable things and it looks good sitting there too. They can fill in for play food for children's play kitchens - but do not tend to keep well when they invariably roll under the couch - that's a pro tip there. While the Acorn Squash is not as popular as it's friend the butternut, one could say the Jan Brady of winter squash, it can be the star of some satisfying winter meals.
1. Stuff It - From as a friend reverently called it "The Joy" - the Joy of Cooking of course. Here squashes get halved, dug out and stuffed with quinoa and nuts. I always use almonds as hazelnuts are not something I tend to have around. This actually got eaten by the 2 year old one time. We add apples and sausage as well - its ok to stuff these till overflowing. If you are not familiar with quinoa, it's high time you got acquainted - it is a grain from the Andes with a pleasant nutty flavor that packs protein. It also cooks much faster than rice, available on the shelf or in bulk in the rice aisle.
2. The Go-To: Brown Sugar This is from Martha Stewart. Roasting any kind of winter squash with brown sugar or maple syrup is the most classic way to do squash as a side dish. I like it stuffed better as it can be a main meal all done in one pot.
Coming back in May 2018, its the Common Ground Market in Poolesville! This is the place to get all your local flowers, vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, bread, and cheese. This season there are two locations. The first Sunday each month will be the monthly market at the Blue Hearth from 12-3pm starting on May 6 - October.
Every Tuesday will be the evening market - 4-7 pm at the Watershed Cafe opening May 15.
The Market will host a plant sale on Earth Day, April 22
Follow the Market here for the most up-to-date information
Local Food Connection
Community Supported Agriculture
Restaurants & Retail
Artists of the Reserve
Montogmery Countryside Alliance
P.O Box 24, Poolesville, MD 20837
301-461-9831 • email@example.com
MCA is proud to announce that we have been once again recognized as one of the best small charities in the D.C. region by Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington. A panel of 110 expert reviewers from area foundations, corporate giving programs, and peer non-profit organizations evaluated 270 applications.
MCA is known as an effective and innovative non-profit whose efforts to preserve and promote Montgomery County’s nationally recognized 93,000 acre Ag Reserve have brought increased public and governmental support of local food production and farmland and open space preservation. Most importantly, MCA’s efforts are putting more farmers on the ground and keeping them there.