As the year draws to a close, we at Montgomery Countryside Alliance give heartfelt thanks to our members and supporters. No question- we could not do it without you. A quick note to share the top 4 reasons to support MCA before the end of the year:
1. Education – creating the next generation of farm stewards: In a county where 1/3 of its land is preserved for agriculture, Montgomery County has no formal agricultural curriculum. MCA is helping to fill the gap. Over the next 5 years, every single MCPS elementary student is getting hands-on, curriculum enhancing Ag activities aboard a mobile Ag Science Lab – with funding secured through a partnership between MCA and the MoCo Farm Bureau. Now entering its 4th year, our high school program now reaches 4 schools with farmer visits and field trips to local farms. Farming touches on all subjects – it’s a career day, civics lesson and master class in entrepreneurship all in one.
2. Growing Farms = Growing Economy: The success of local farming is the success of the Reserve. That’s why we have matched more than 20 new and expanding farmers with long term leases on more than 400 acres through our Land Link Montgomery program. Land is one hurdle but training and access to markets is another. With additional resources we will advance the New Farmer Program aimed toward growing the County’s next generation farmers. We are also serving on the Montgomery County Planning Department’s agritourism working group focused on increasing farm profitability.
3. Connecting people to place
“Wait, what is the Ag Reserve?” We hear that a lot. It’s a problem. So, we’ve created a number of annual events (Field and Fiddle, the Royce Hanson Award Celebration, Ride for the Reserve, screenings of our “Growing Legacy” film) bringing in a record number of residents out to explore the Reserve and understand its purpose, along with a revised Ag Guide and online interactive map to help them find the best local food, history and recreation opportunities.
4. Protecting Land and Water
A shocking fact for those who rely on water – the DC regional comprehensive water plan expired over a decade ago. MCA is on the front lines with partner groups to push for a new plan for our most precious resource as the climate changes and higher demands are put on current systems. We are also partnering with allies across the river to once again battle back plans for a Potomac Bridge crossing and outer beltway that would bisect the Reserve. This time around the interests behind this boondoggle are even better funded and more influential– but it’s an objective fact – there are far better transportation solutions that address congestion while preserving quality of life and tax payer dollars.
We are pleased to share that the American Planning Association awarded the 2017 Planning Landmark Award for Montgomery County’s courageous commitment to agriculture in founding the Reserve almost 40 years ago. And with your support MCA will continue to tenaciously meet the challenges, build a greater base of consumer and advocacy support and grow our local farm economy. Your gift works through all seasons to protect farms, water and open space right here in Montgomery County.