Challenges and Innovative Approaches
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MCA Invites You to Hear Four Experts Discuss
Challenges and Innovative Approaches
Meet our Speakers
Sophia Maravell grew up on a seed saving organic farm in Montgomery County, MD. She wrote her undergrad thesis on female farmers and ranchers, and started working on sustainable farms in Colorado, Maryland and abroad. She attended the Farm School's Practical Farm Training Program in Athol, MA and shortly thereafter co-founded Brickyard Educational Farm in Potomac, Maryland. She has her Permaculture Design Certificate from Forested and earned a Master's in Education from Goddard College in Community Education focusing land-based farming and craft communities. She worked as a farm-based educator and co-manager at Hawthorne Valley Farm's Place-based Learning Center. Currently she works at Potomac Vegetable Farms as a community educator and farmer. Sophia is committed to healing through our connection to land. She is committed remembering 'culture' back into 'agriculture' by cultivating beautiful food and community.
Nick Maravell has been farming organically for more than 40 years. Concerned about the soil, environment, energy conservation, and fresh, local, and healthy nutrient dense food, he began by selling vegetables to restaurants, local food and farmer co-ops and health food chains, and at farmers markets. Now the farm produces mainly row crops and livestock. The farm is located on 175 fertile acres in the Frederick Valley in Maryland. Nick’s Organic Farm uses a diversified grass based organic farming system with rotational grazing, cover crops, and an 8-12 year crop rotation to constantly build the soil. Nick served a five-year term on National Organic Standards Board and is involved in the newly formed Real Organic Project (ROP) which advocates for organic standards that adhere to the basic principles of an ecological soil and pasture.
Pete Walton is a farmer and entrepreneur from Northern Virginia, with a passion for soil, trees, and livestock. He has worked on projects ranging from small urban farms, to large scale regenerative grazing systems, and cannabis production on the west coast.
Meet the Speakers
Our Education Committee has been busy scheduling outreach events with local high school students. In January, Poolesville High School's Global Ecology program got a homecoming visit from retired faculty member Joyce Bailey- now chairing MCA's education committee. Joyce was joined by Gene Kingsbury of Kingsbury Orchard, Amanda Cather of Plow and Stars Farm, Doug Tregoning of the County Extension Office. Gene and Doug also visited a horticulture class at Sherwood High School.
As in past years, the committee is planning visits to farms in the spring, including Shepherd's Hey, Rocklands Farm and Kingsbury's Orchard. Along with trips to Ten Mile Creek. We are working with stellar MCA volunteer and elementary school teacher Kirsten Novo to adapt Ag Reserve lessons for our younger residents in line with the Ute Aminzadeh Educational Project.
Bread, Milk, Paper Towels and Flowers For Your Beloved? Really?
If you are buying your flowers at the supermarket, you are missing out on an opportunity to show you care about not just your Valentine but also the community you share. Of course local blooms are not in season in the frozen tundra our county has become of late. Your love may not have a season but flowers sure do. But here is an idea- secure your spring and summer blooms today from one of the Reserve's flower CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) - like a subscription for a weekly bouquet. It works just like a produce CSA with a weekly pickup options. (Is your Valentine more moved by food than flowers? Find our CSA list here.)
CSA options include Gypsy Flower Farm, Grateful Gardeners and Hidden Ridge Flower Farm. Until February 15 Gypsy Flower Farm (Farmer Sid pictured above) is offering 5% the total CSA price and a free Mother's Day Bouquet More info here.
If things happen to be getting serious with your Valentine, you may also want to consider using these local farms or Sungold Flower Co. who focuses solely on foraging and harvesting uniquely seasonal flowers for your event.
We are pleased to introduce the first in a series of reflections from Annabel Kauffman, an MCA volunteer, high school student and Ag Reserve resident. Learn more about her on our Staff and Volunteer Page. We are always looking for reflections for our site - drop us a line - firstname.lastname@example.org
“It is a rewarding experience to work on my orchard, knowing that I am continuing a family legacy that started almost 100 years ago.” Gene Kingsbury
Kingsbury’s farm keeps Gene busy as there is work to do for every month, commenting that “orchard work is a year round job.” Pruning goes on throughout the winter months, followed by the planting, fertilizing and thinning seasons. Harvest begins in mid-June starting with sweet cherries, followed by apricots and peaches, and the first peaches ripen in late June and last through September 15th. The apples begin in early August and end in early November. Finally pears begin to ripen in mid-August and last through the end of September. Kingsbury's Orchard uses a specialized integrated pest management plan that has targeted pesticides which reduces the chemicals used on the farm.
During the past year weather has been a challenging factor for the farm. “Our record rainfall last year made it extremely difficult to grow and harvest good quality fruit.” This record rainfall is likely a result of the continuing climate change which also creates other difficulties such as spring frost damage, hail, drought, and fruit sunburn from excessive heat. Despite those obstacles Kingsbury Orchard still finds a way to produce, selling 75% of their crops through a retail market on site and the other 25% through local stores such as Giant and Whole Foods.
Gene is very appreciative of the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve, stating that “Kingsbury’s Orchard would not be in business without the help of the Agricultural Reserve, it keeps the land safe and benefits the county's urban areas.” To view harvest schedules, and when to visit the farm please check out the the Kingsbury’s Orchard.
New Program to accelerate afforestation and reforestation in support of Montgomery's County's Climate Change Response Plan
Announcing a new MCA Program that will help reach the county's climate change goals and enhance stream buffers for better water quality.
In the County, developers chopping trees must either replant the same number on the site or pay into a "fee in lieu" fund that will re-forest other areas. The Planning Department has used some of this now million dollar fund to re-forest 32 acres of stream buffers in county parks.
But we think we can do more, much more.
The Reserve is ripe for reforestation on lands that are not suitable for crops. MCA will be matching private landowners with the Planning Department to plan tree plantings.
An acre of trees can absorb 68 tons of carbon - the same as taking 17 cars off the road for a year. In rural locations, one acre of forest can produce between $12,000-$77,000 in environmental benefits each year. See more on the impact of reforestation from Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Our global climate challenge needs all the solutions we can throw at it. However, along with promotion of Regenerative Agriculture, another project we are taking on this year, reforestation represents huge carbon cutting potential with lower costs than transportation or retrofitting projects.
To learn more - Visit our ReLeaf Information Page
A recent Civil Eats Article about mentoring, land linking and other services to farmers drove home to us that as the average age of farmers hits 70, not only do these elder farmers have an important role in mentoring the next generation, but the new generation can't farm without it.
They also can't farm without land - that is where programs like Land Link Montgomery - based on successful programs across the country, comes in. As the article pointed out, these programs need investment to help them better connect landowners with land seekers.
Those lessons can be boiled down to a few key points: While listing land owners and seekers is important, it’s adding boots-on-the-ground work to that service that really makes the magic happen. That kind of connection requires significant funding, however, which is usually lacking.
This year, we are going to invest more time in adding more landowners to Land Link and making more matches happen. If you have been considering offering a land lease, contact us to get started -email@example.com
We thank our supporters for all we were able to accomplish in 2018. A recent trip back through the year shows that we often had to play defence this year- particularly against a a raft of proposed zoning changes - many of them problematic. The most troubling was 18-04 - a measure that would allow non-compliant (i.e- not farms) uses in the Reserve to expand - in direct opposition to the master plan. Through testimony and working with the County we were able to amend the bill so that it allows expansion only for safety reasons. At the time we wrote:
"As is always the case, the crafting of these types of bills in isolation of full impact analysis and stakeholder discussion does not yield good result and certainly requires needless expenditure of our collective energy. That said, if there is a single use with demonstrable public purpose and minimal impact that seeks a remedy, let's work collaboratively to that end. This ZTA as written, however, will do harm."
The Reserve is nearly 40 years old but the balancing act of farms on metro's edge remains fragile. Changes are part of managing a vibrant landscape, but we are the boots on the ground calling for careful respect of the ecosystem of farms, open space and rural communities that make the Reserve a place worth protecting in perpetuity.
Though we spent the year defending the Reserve, we also spent the year educating hundreds of local high schools students with farmer visits to classrooms and student field trips to farms. We educated voters with our 2018 Candidate's Survey to help them navigate a wide field of potential county leaders.
We spent the year collaborating on reducing the county's waste and carbon footprint. We successfully advocated for a strengthened Water Sewer Plan and were victorious in a developer's suit on Ten Mile Creek.
We put on the "Best Festival of 2018" according to Montgomery Magazine - the Field and Fiddle Festival and celebrated the Rustic Roads with hundreds of bikers and volunteers on the 11th Annual Ride for the Reserve.
It has been a great 2018 and we have bold plans for 2019. Our ability to Defend, Educate and Celebrate in Montgomery County relies on local support. When considering your end of year giving, please give where you live and support MCA with your tax-deductible donation. And Thanks!
A bit of fun from your friends at MCA. Peace of the Season to you and yours. We will just have to wait until MoCo's orchards open again in the spring. In the meantime take our quiz to find out what variety of apple you are. We'd love to hear the results on our Facebook page.
It is nothing less than the global challenge of our time. A slow motion disaster, caused and perpetuated each day by all of us - leaving each of us either feeling powerless in the face of its enormity or in denial of an inconvenient scientifically proved truth. Our world is warming.
Recently predictions have gotten more dire, more certain. There is now a timeline for serious impacts to be felt. Much like the adage about planting trees, the time to act was either 20 years ago - or now.
Montgomery County's 93,000 acre Ag Reserve was envisioned at its creation in 1980 as a way to keep farms on the landscape and it has been successful, but it has also served as a "green lung" and water filter for the region, its forests sucking in Co2, its pervious surfaces allowing re-absorption of large rainfall events. But the County, the Reserve and MCA as its steward can (and must) do more to combat our climate challenge and mitigate the coming impacts.
The county has made a climate change pledge for the county of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. The county is also working toward Executive Leggett's goal of being a zero waste county - starting with recycling/composting 70% of materials by 2023. MCA is proud to serve on the county's Zero Waste Task Force.
We are proud to have collaborated with the 38 other organizations making up the Stormwater Partners Network on the Clean Water Blueprint - to be addressed by the Elrich administration. The document lays out how we protect water across the country going forward and provides metrics for gauging success. Among the recommendations are several Ag Reserve specific provisions that MCA will help to implement including:
~Educational outreach for well and septic owners
~Establishing science based impervious limits in the Reserve to protect the Sole Source Aquifer and stream quality
~Advance programs for regenerative agriculture
Land and Farms
At MCA, our mission is to protect the farms and open spaces of the Ag Reserve but we all have a role to play in the challenges ahead. We can choose grim disaffection, denial or action. Help us position the Ag Reserve as a climate change mitigation tool for our county and region. We would be honored by your tax-deductible end of year gift. Thank You!
Having just joined the family in the annual It's a Wonderful Life viewing, I thought, once again, about how truly remarkable and unique the Reserve is... and how fragile. Remember the film's gripping scene when there is a run on the local bank and George Bailey spots a crowd of frightened shareholders descending on the family's savings and loan? George Bailey's earnest explanation of the benefits that the Savings and Loan provided, both individually and collectively, brought all but one, who still demanded his entire $242, to understand that there was a imperative to sustain the institution. They each took what they needed without crushing the savings and loan.
So it is, as I see it, with the Ag Reserve. We could easily wring every last dime out of the land for the benefit of a few at the expense of the many... sure we could.
And we could do so after expending millions of public and private dollars on preservation easements and countless hours establishing, supporting and defending land for farming and open space preservation. We could
deplete the Reserve by turning a blind eye to important preservation goals for open space and natural and historic resources. But much like the community service provided by Bailey Bros. Savings and Loan, the Reserve pays dividends in clean air, water quality, open space, food and fiber - the list goes on. The survival of farming and the Reserve is a commonly shared goal and we have all invested so much in it.
How do we arrive at a consensus as to the best means to keeping the land in farming and protecting open space and natural resources in the face of myriad challenges and pressures? Meeting this challenge is precisely what we do each day.
Since 2001, we have been the organization on the ground protecting the quality of our farms, open space and water supply. Our collaborative and tenacious approach has lead us to be called "one of the best" nonprofits in the region. Your tax deductible investment in our community stays here but goes far to ensure a future for local farms.
Peace of the Season to you and yours,
Caroline Taylor, Executive Director
Increasing the reduce, reuse and recycling of our waste is going to take some re-thinking about how we live currently. We found some interesting tidbits to share:
-Terracycle partners with large international brands to offer reusable containers called LOOP.
-Why do toothpaste tubes come in outer boxes?
MCA has been an active member in the County's Zero Waste Task Force. While the recycling rate is at 50% currently, the County is aiming to recycle 70% of its waste by 2023. Zero Waste is a really big goal and we are proud to work on it with other local stakeholders. The first step in the undertaking has been gathering data- that is why both MCA and the County have undertaken surveys to find out what is working at the household level. Thanks to all those that took the time to participate. The results are below.
A few takeaways:
- Food Scraps make up 21% of total landfill-bound waste in the County. While much of that food would biodegrade to make soil in the right conditions, this does not happen in a landfill. Many respondents want to see curbside composting.
- Residents also want to be able to recycle more of their waste (specifically plastics, styrofoam and bulk items such as mattresses).
-Better education on what can be recycled and why recycling is important was seen by many respondents as a good first step toward waste reduction.
Update - New Windsor in Carroll County has tried a "Pay as you Throw" approach to trash and it seems to be working.
A win for the backup water supply for 4.3 Million in our region
A small resident of Ten Mile Creek meets a Poolesville High School Student
Breaking news! Federal 4th Circuit Court affirms dismissal of Pulte Homes lawsuit that challenged Montgomery County's stage 4 Clarksburg development plan. Pulte sought to construct over 1000 homes in the creek's fragile headwaters and atop the sole source groundwater aquifer. The land use plan rightly set science based impervious surface caps in the important Ten Mile Creek watershed, providing a level of protection for the creek and Seneca Reservoir which serves as a back up drinking water supply for 4.3 million regional residents. MCA, Audubon and other partners labored for several years to ensure protection for high quality Ten Mile Creek and the back up drinking water supply.
Long story short - The court has found Pulte had no constitutional property interest in developing its land as it had contemplated, and local authorities had a plausible, rational basis for their actions in denying this development project.
In 2004-2006, Pulte purchased 540 acres of Clarksburg land, then governed by the 1994 Master Plan, which divided development into four stages. In the fourth stage, the area containing Pulte’s land was to be developed into residential communities. Pulte’s land was designated as a receiving property for Transferable Development Rights (TDRs) and was zoned for one-acre lots. Pulte could increase the allowable density to two units per acre by purchasing TDRs from agricultural properties in other Montgomery County areas, which would restrict future development of the agricultural property. Pulte invested 12 million dollars in TDRs. Under the Plan, there were prerequisites to Stage 4 development. All had occurred by 2009. The Plan stated that Stage 4 developments can proceed once public agencies and the developer have complied with all “implementing mechanisms,” which included Water and Sewer Plan amendments. Pulte submitted its Water and Sewer Request to the County and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in 2009, with a $10,000 filing fee. The County never acted on Pulte’s application. In 2012, Pulte submitted a Pre-Application Concept Plan to the Commission, which rejected the plan. The agencies refused to meet and stopped responding to Pulte’s communications but reopened the Plan to study the watershed in which Pulte’s land is located and ultimately imposed regulatory changes that severely reduced the number of dwellings Pulte could build and imposed additional costly burdens. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Pulte’s due process, equal protection, and regulatory taking claims, stating that federal courts are not the appropriate forum to challenge local land use determinations
Lets face it, the holidays come with a lot of stress. You start with the best of intentions- your heart swells with the first light display or card from a friend- but somewhere in there, you've just had too much pie, or paid too much for expedited shipping, you've just lost that peace on earth, goodwill toward all part.
Fear Not! Over the past few years 3 new days on the calendar have emerged as a counterweight to the frantic shopping and schlepping that the holidays can become.
Opt Outside is a campaign by outdoor retailer REI to urge families to spend their holiday time outside instead of at the mall on Black Friday. As they did for the first time in 2015, their website will go dark, their fulfillment center will go silent as their employees spend the day outside. Visit Montgomery County's amazing parks this weekend.
Small Business Saturday is November 24 this year- skip the mall and enjoy your local retailers that keep your money close to home and enrich your community. Farmers are the oldest small business there is. You might want to check out a year round farm and artisan market. Or visit an on-farm brewery or winery.
Wishing you a meaningful holiday- whatever that means to you- your friends at MCA
Give Where You Live and Sustain Agriculture on Metro's Edge
Happy #GivingTuesday - a day in the middle of the busy holiday season to think about what we can each give to our community. As you consider how you can give back, may we humbly suggest you support to your small (but mighty!), award winning farm and water protection non-profit. We have been the boots on the ground protecting Montgomery County's nationally renowned Ag Reserve since 2001.
Even better - one time donations of $100 (click donate) or more or monthly sustainers (click sustain) in any amount will get a 2019 MCA Calendar while supplies last (if you choose a calendar - be double sure we get your address!)
Update: The Farm Bill passed! Harmful provisions that would have limited SNAP benefits for our most vulnerable neighbors were not included but hemp can now be legally grown. If you think we are overblowing the benefits of this change, please see this article from Forbes "How Hemp And The Farm Bill May Change Life As You Know It" MCA will be working with the extension office and local farmers to help get folks on the ground taking advantage of this win for agriculture, waste reduction, carbon sequestration, soil health, the list goes on....
Industrial Hemp is a step closer to being a legal crop in the US. As the US Farm Bill passed the Senate last week the bill has one final hurdle before the President's desk - the Senate Conference Committee, where it is expected to make it through unscathed.
Everything you need to know about Hemp:
Hemp is Marijuana, right? Nope. While is is a kind of Cannabis, it contains none of the THC that makes its cousin a controlled substance in much of the US. This is an instance of one responsible sibling being lumped in with their wayward brother. In fact, you certainly have interacted with hemp at some point in your day already- it is in your car interior, possibly your breakfast cereal, and almost certainly textiles or other materials you have come in contact with. However, the hemp you interacted with today was grown elsewhere and imported - because it is still a "schedule 1" drug like marijuana and cocaine. The Farm Bill along with the rolling back of regulations by many states seeks to take this hard-working crop out of detention and into the field.
All these uses and it regenerates quickly (unlike a forest of Truffulas, or real trees for that matter), requires few pesticides or fertilizers to grow and actually improves soil unlike other commodity crops. It also fetches much higher prices than these other pesticide heavy commodities. In Virgina, corn will go for $5/ bushel, Hemp Seed $40/bushel with a shorter growing season.
I thought it was already legal in Maryland? Yes, with many caveats. The bill that passed, like others in other states, has paved the way for farmers to grow hemp in a research capacity in close partnership with an academic institution. We were proud to to support this successful first step and local growers will benefit from this much needed expertise being built with a new crop but the economic benefits of this crop will only be realized once the stigma and federal classification is removed - as the Farm Bill will do.
There was a productive stakeholder meeting on Hemp in May 2018 at the MC Farm Bureau. To learn more drop us a line firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy our third annual Ag Reserve Calendar with photos from the many farms and open spaces that make up the Reserve. Ready to ship in December with your gift of $100 or more with the donate button below or a new automatic monthly Sustainer donation in any amount. Makes a great gift! Check out some pictures from last year's calendar.
There are still a few days remaining to secure your turkey, pies and makings for sides locally. Have a farm to add to our list? - please let us know.
Plow and Stars Farm and Pizza Brama are offering a full heat and serve meal lovingly raised and expertly prepared. Order before the 19th
Red Wiggler Community Farm is doing their annual Thanksgiving Market 11/14 to 11/17
Lewis Orchard is taking pie orders till 11/18 and hams till 11/16
Kingsbury Orchard has their last days for the season this weekend. For those that want to do their own pie, they have Granny Smiths for your apple pie and delectable Asian Pear cider that will please everyone around your table.
Fox Hollow Farm Market has stoked up their ovens and are turning out pie after pie along with lamb, chicken and eggs.
R B Savage + Sons is taking turkey orders by phone - 301-370-7111
Common Root Farm in Derwood is still hosting their on-farm market with regular Saturday hours and also Tuesday (3-6)
Rocklands Farm and Winery has pasture raised meats and award winning wine for your table.
Your Local Farmers Market - Thanksgiving is our most culinary holiday and if you aren't a frequent visitor to your local farmers market, now is a great time. This weekend is the last market for many open air markets but some go all year-round. See this MoCo Office of Agriculture nifty tool to find a market near you.
Non food items:
We are thankful for our supporters. MCA works to protect the Ag Reserve to benefit the whole region. Our local focus relies on local support, please make your tax deductible gift today.
To honor both her love of the Ag Reserve and commitment to education, we have launched the Ute Aminzadeh Ag Reserve Education Fund. This fund will enhance continuing efforts to educate students on the importance of Agriculture and farmland natural resource protection. Our education program includes class visits from farmers and field trips to farms for local high schools along with a partnership with the Montgomery County Farm Bureau that has brought Maryland Agriculture Education Foundation (MAEF) Mobile Ag Education Labs to all Montgomery County Elementary Schools. It is our goal to scale up our efforts to ensure that in a County with 1/3rd of its land set aside for farmland and open space protection, agriculture becomes part of the formal curriculum.
Gifts to this fund will provide for Ag Reserve curriculum materials crafted specifically for elementary aged students to provide engaging, hands-on lessons to connect our youngest students to the importance of farms. As Ute did, we love engaging with these future Montgomery County residents, leaders and stewards so they may carry on the legacy of the Ag Reserve.
The next County Council, which will be seated on Dec. 3, will decide the county’s next steps, if any, on small cell towers.
Lacking a clear majority for passage, the current council deferred action on zoning regs that would have decided where the towers could be placed. State law prevents a county council from enacting zoning or land use regulations after Oct. 31 in an election year. The new council’s first session is scheduled for Dec. 4.
More from My MC Media
Breaking: We understand that the Small Cell bill and associated procedural change at the Office of Administrative Appeals have both been pulled. Bethesda Beat has covered the cell bill here.
While this change to limit the public process has been pulled today, it may be revived at any point. Please read on for the original post.
Montgomery County Council eyes limiting public participation before the Office of Administrative Appeals for proceedings such as conditional approvals of land uses. In question is rule 4.2 e. to curtail the amount of time each side - for and against- is allowed to speak in a hearing regardless of the number of individuals/organizations on either side. There are often many unrelated parties in these sorts of hearings. In this case - an eye on the clock could very easily be public participation denied. And - this change for less public participation is being considered without a public hearing. What?!
Testimony from MCA , Sugarloaf Citizens Association, Conservation Montgomery, Friends of Ten Mile Creek and land use attorneyBill Chen
Write the Councilmemembers and County Executive with the form below to tell them to keep the participation rules unchanged in these administrative appeals hearings. Without a public hearing - this is the only way to make your voice heard.
Local Food Connection
Community Supported Agriculture
Restaurants & Retail
Artists of the Reserve
Montgomery 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.