Lee Langstaff, Shepherd’s Hey farm
Lee was featured in our "Growing Legacy" film. See Lee (and her flock) in the trailer here.
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“It all started when I learned how to knit.”
Lee Langstaff, Shepherd’s Hey farm
In the early 1980s, Lee Langstaff took a casual knitting class with one of her friends, and little did she know how this knitting class would change her life. “I fell in love with the wool as soon as I touched it.” Over the next few years she started learning how to spin wool, and took advantage of her close proximity to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, the largest of its kind in the United States. Once her brother purchased a farm on the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve, she really began to explore the the foundations of wool and fiber farming, and Shepherd’s Hey Farm was born. At first the family had a small starter group of a few rams and ewes, and little by little the farm began to grow. This year they birthed 43 new lambs!
Lee was featured in our "Growing Legacy" film. See Lee (and her flock) in the trailer here.
Shepherd’s Hey Farm sells high quality wool fleece and spun wool to at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and also to individuals by request online. Lee breeds the sheep for their natural color, uniformity of the fleece, and good quality crimp, which can influence the spinning process. I was surprised to learn that the sheep wear coats, shown in the picture below. This keeps the wool clean and prevents UV damage from the sun, which changes the color of the wool.
Shepherd’s Hey can’t keep all of the lambs born on the farm each spring. Some are sold to other fiber farms to improve the quality of their breeding stock. Those which are not appropriate for breeding or long term wool production are pasture fed for several months then brought to a local, USDA-approved butcher. Lee takes great pride in knowing where her food comes from, commenting that commenting that “it provides a direct engagement with mindfulness and gratitude" She takes care that the lambs on her farm are raised humanely.
“The majority of animals that end up in a grocery store don’t have a good life, and I don't feel comfortable about that for myself.”
Lee and her brother David believe that the the Agricultural Reserve contributes to both the farming and larger communities in many ways. The zoning rules and limitations on development mean that farmers can afford to stay on their land, and the close proximity of farming to more developed areas exposes the greater community to the many wonderful things that farmers produce. According to the Farm Bureau Federation, there are 2.1 million farms in the U.S., with 99% being family-owned, but many people have never visited a working farm or have a clear understanding of how farm products are generated. Many Montgomery county residents don’t even realize that a large portion of the county has been reserved for agricultural purposes, but Lee feels that as soon as people see the view and the working farms that make up that view, they fall in love, and that is key to keeping the land safe. She believes the best way to advocate for the Agricultural Reserve is to keep it pristine, and let the view speak for itself. I’ll talk more about how we can all contribute to keeping the Agricultural Reserve clean and trash-free in a future post.
Shepherd’s Hey allows visits by appointment. If you would like to visit the farm, keep up to date with the new lambs, or purchase some wool, you can follow Shepherd’s Hey Farm on Facebook or stop by their booth at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.
Photos: Annabel Kauffman and Shepherd's Hey Farm
Attention Gaithersburg and Rockville Residents! We need your quick action - Delegate Barve plans to vote against a "No Net Forest Loss" bill (HB 120) on the House floor in Annapolis (part of a package of forest bills). He needs to hear from his constituents. Please take a moment today to either call him 410-841-3990 or click "start writing" below to customize our letter template. Del. Barve was named Legislator of the Year in 2017 by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters - let him know we expect him to stand up for forests!
Update: HB 735 - The bill mandating study of forest protection passed unanimously in the house. The Fee-in-Lieu bill passed in the senate as well!- thanks so much to all those that wrote in!
These bills need your help this week to protect Forests - we can't delay another year- thanks for your quick action!
What if there were a product that could provide clean water and air, cool our world, sequester carbon and provide habitat at the same time? If a tech giant were creating such a tool it would have major buzz- the next big thing. But this tool is not flashy or new and it is not of our making - it's trees.
While forests offer all these incredible benefits, we are not protecting them as we should at a time that we need their services more than ever. The Chesapeake Bay Program has found Maryland is losing a dozen acres per day. 3 bills in Annapolis aim to reverse this trend - and they need your support. Click "start writing" below to send a quick letter!
Press on these Bills
Time to Close the Loopholes in MD's Forest Conservation Laws (Balt Sun)
Spare MD's Trees (Balt Sun)
No Net Trees Lost is Good for MD's Forests (Cap. Gazette)
How do we make sure that we have enough affordable housing opportunities here in Montgomery County?
A zoning text amendment is currently being considered by the MC County Council: (full text here)
While there is widespread support for better access to affordable housing, the ZTA as introduced has raised a number of questions/concerns, including but not limited to:
- no stated maximum size
- forest/tree loss
- stormwater mitigation - impervious surfaces
- enforcement mechanisms
We look forward to the continuing conversation and refinements to the amendment to ensure that it meets our shared goals without unintended consequences.
Planning Staff Report
A video from Landis Construction done Pro-Bono for the County to illustrate ADUs permissible under the proposed ZTA.
Below: County Executive staffer Claire Islei reads a statement from Executive Elrich's office on opposition to the ZTA as written.
See the full text of Claire Iseli's testimony from the County Executive's office. It references this Rental Housing Study and this report summary.
Subject: Good Intent- More Work Needed
Dear Council President Navarro and Councilmembers,
MCA echoes both the support for the intent of ZTA 19-01 and real concern with inattention, thus far, to important details. Specifically, and to be brief here, the ZTA is absent a maximum size of the detached units. We recommend limiting the size to 900 sq ft. as is effectively provided for in Portland. Keeping these units this size or less will better achieve several key stated goals, most notably ensuring that they may be reasonably affordable for the demographics that they intend to serve. Moreover, properly limiting maximum accessory unit size will help ensure that there will be less potential for significant violations in terms of the number of tenants etc.
I look forward to further collaborative conversation on how to advance the goals of the amendment while addressing broadly shared concerns.
Caroline Taylor, Executive Director Montgomery Countryside Alliance
Thanks to all that attended the February 2019 Regenerative Ag and Hemp Conference. Below we are sharing some resources from our presenters and other farmers. Have a resource we missed? Drop a line - email@example.com
Click infographic to enlarge
More on Regenerative Agriculture:
SARE offers an interactive Soil Health Diagram
Soil Becomes Fertile Ground for Climate Action
Video- Why Microbes in the soil are so important
Meet Del Fricke: Nebraska's Regenerative Ag Apostle
Regenerative Ag on a backyard garden scale
Regenerative Ag comes to 1 Million General Mills Acres
Rodale: Explaining Regenerative Organic Agriculture
Hemp Resources - Pete Walton
Contact Pete Walton: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pete's Power Point on Hemp Production
Link to MD Hemp Getting Started
Link to MD Grower Application
Link to MD Hemp FAQ's
In particular, I wanted to point out this section below. It is possible that this has already changed, but I just wanted to encourage people to be cautious when trying to acquire seed. Getting sued/arrested for a simple misunderstanding of the laws would be a major bummer.
(as of 1/28/2019)
Q: How can a participant obtain industrial hemp seed?
A: The department will not be involved or participate in any seed orders to be obtained from other states, including ordering, shipping, or approving such seed procurement. Seed sourced from another state shall be the sole responsibility of the person sourcing and/or procuring and shipping the seed and such person shall bear all legal liability and responsibility for such procurement and shipment. The permit holder must be aware that until the federal government reclassifies industrial hemp, it is still considered a Schedule 1 Drug. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has jurisdiction covering imports and interstate movement. Under current federal law and DEA regulations, industrial hemp seed is restricted from interstate shipment.
Small Scale REGENERATIVE Ag Nick Maravell
Contact Nick: email@example.com
Anne and Eric Nordell in PA are famous for their weed control, cover crop system, and vegetable rotations. They have (I think) six acres, and they use draft horses when they need them. They keep about half of their land in cover crops during the growing season, but they do not bring in a lot of off-farm inputs. I think they are now incorporating animals into their system, but in the old days they were all veggies and cut flowers. I would suggest studying their system which has evolved over the last 35 years for regenerative ag ideas that MoCo Producers might be able to use. I am attaching a few links that demonstrate how they started and how they farm now.
Recent podcast—audio only http://www.farmertofarmerpodcast.com/episodes/nordell
Small Farm Journal—has about 20 articles here showing how Anne and Eric evolved their system https://smallfarmersjournal.com/writers/eric-nordell/
Good article in MOFGA Journal from 2001 (Eric and Anne look so young!) http://www.mofga.org/Publications/The-Maine-Organic-Farmer-Gardener/Spring-2001/Weeds
Excellent description of their system in the New Farm magazine http://www.newfarm.org/features/1204/nordell/
Regenerative and No-Till Videos
Farmer Gigi Going shared the following links on our Producers Listserve (want to join click here)
Regenerative farming is such a love and I can chit chat forever! Here are just some of the modern voices in the small, bio-intensive, no-till and regenerative farming arena.
I am happy to share about my experiences here on my website: https://www.farmergigi.com/
Here is a great start to Richard Perkins info, see parts 1 and 2:
Here is some of Conor Crickmore, of Neversink Farm:
Here is Curtis Stone, a lot of the new, urban farmers start out with his videos:
Here is my mentor, the maestro, Jean-Martin Fortier. His book, The Market Gardener is a model for successful small farming. He no longer does low till, he has moved to no till. Some of these are older videos.
Here is one of my mentors, Paul Gautschi. It took me 5 hours to watch this 90 minute film and I've watched several times since. Paul has been a gift to me, generous and consistent. This film is done by two film students who recognized his unique perspective. Video:
or on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/backtoedenofficialfilm/23623403
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 • firstname.lastname@example.org
MCA is proud to announce that we have been recognized for a third time 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.