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The first 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 are taking broccoli on first in our winter veggie series as its one of those veggies that can positively sing when cooked right. It's a familiar crop that is available most of the year round. It also can go bad very quickly, unlike your potatoes or squash that can hang out on the counter for weeks. We split a large share from our farmer with another family - thereby dividing pick-up duties. It works really well, except you get to choose what you'd like in our CSA and we sometimes have a communication breakdown and get lots more of something when we hadn't touched the share of it from last week. That is why I found myself staring down 4 small heads of broccoli in the fridge - in varrying stages of "use it now." This is part of the beauty of a CSA - forced vegetable creativity. Lets dive in:
1. Roast it: We first turn to Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten - who personifies simple but flavorful cooking. This recipe appeared on a blog with the title "The Best Broccoli of Your Life" and it is- roasted with lemon and parm. This is the go-to around here and one of two children try it. Roasting is generally the best way to handle broccoli. If you have only had overcooked steamed or boiled broccoli, no wonder you don't like it.
2. Asian Peanut Sauce Leanne Brown wrote a digital book for her grad program called "Good and Cheap" with detailed recipes and cooking tips for folks living on $4/day - that is what a food stamps budget works out to. This free resource has been downloaded millions of times. The title is apt, it is good food - like noodles and veggies in homemade peanut sauce - with an eye on cost per portion. Only the grown-ups liked this one but it was great.
3. Broccoli Apple Salad I have not made this, but it looks like a kid crowd pleaser. Call it apples and tiny trees, that works sometimes here.
4. Broccoli Pesto Noodles Also from Leann Brown of Good and Cheap. Leann says broccoli that no longer looks its best works in this one.
5. Empanadas You could make these with almost anything, these happen to be egg, cheddar and broccoli - but it is surely time consuming. I made them on a rainy, cold Sunday afternoon. There are enough eggs in it that if you have your children help they may actually get enough practice by the end to crack them without getting shells in there - maybe. It all paid off as the 2 year old liked them a lot. Also from Good and Cheap and her advice about adding the cornmeal gave it a really nice crunch.
5. Buddha Bowl This one is an aspirational recipe for me, I have not tried buddha bowls out on the family yet, but the idea is an endlessly customizable bowl featuring grains, veggies roasted and raw, a protein (usually chickpeas, sometimes chicken) and a sauce. Roasted broccoli is a popular choice and here is one with cauliflower too - which according to the crisper drawer, will be our next installment. Stay tuned.
The Revolving Barn Door She listed her few acres of land, got a farmer who wanted to start small and build his skills- he did and moved to bigger acreage. Now she's taking on a new farmer to start again. That's two new farms grown on two acres.
The Institutional Farmer Asbury Methodist Village is committed to vital living for its senior residents - going so far as to seek a resident farmer for their new campus farm. Farmer Gigi is planning her first season of crops and engaging the residents in growing food close to home.
The Taste of Home Land Link was able to match Farmer Tanya with acreage to grow crops from her native Zimbabwe - including Kiwano, or horned Melon.
"Like life, liberty and democracy, clean water is not something we can take for granted."
~Scott Fosler, keynote address at December 3 Regional Water Forum
Various studies and reports relating to regional water availability and storage were cited during the forum. To be clear, MCA and partners acknowledge these ongoing efforts but stress the imperative to coordinate via inter-jurisdiction and interagency our efforts to maintain and protect our regional water supplies, both quantity and quality.
The ICPRB has released the following report on water supply alternatives:
The water forum hosted by MC Sierra Club in partnership with MCA and other local non-profits drew a crowd of nearly 100 on a sunny winter day. The goal was to begin a collaborative discussion focusing on regional water resources challenges and how we might best address them and featured representatives from WSSC, Montgomery Parks and the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB). When asked about the lapsed 50 year water plan, the panelists' responses were both surprising and troubling, highlighting why groups have launched this initiative.
"What plan are we talking about?"
"To my knowledge there are not people sitting down and saying 'ok lets make a plan for the next 50 years'."
Speaking for many in the audience, Caroline replies, "Uh-Oh".
The answer is almost certainly yes- but read on for caveats and some myths debunked.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) sign up time is upon us now, hoop houses across Maryland are full of tender little plants just waiting to be sown in the field. Joining a CSA is buying a stake in a farm's harvest in advance of the growing season. Each week throughout the season, you pick up (or are delivered) a box of whatever is ready for harvest. We will run quickly through the well-familiar pros of this sort of set-up that anyone considering a CSA already knows:
More Money to the Farmer ~ Freshest Food ~ Connection to Community ~ Food Discoveries ~ Non-mealy, real deal tomatoes that someone else weeds
So is a CSA for everyone? No - in the interest of really enjoying the experience you have to know that a CSA is a commitment for a number of months. A committment to pick up (or have delivered) the box and eat or cook and eat its contents. So- if you are not planning to cook (or learn to cook) at least 3 nights a week a CSA is not for you. You might solve this by splitting the CSA with a friend. Said friend can also split the pick-up duties.
Update: The Transportation Planning Board has chosen 5 of the 10 studied transportation projects as priorities for the coming years. Not among them - the Potomac River Bridge and associated highway through the Reserve, and for good reason. Read on below for our original post diving into the data behind the Bridge's poor showing in comparison to other land use measures that would better reduce traffic congestion with far fewer ill effects and cost to taxpayers. To read a great synopsis on this - see this article from Greater Greater Washington which explains how traffic is more like a gas while these misguided big projects treat it like water. Also - A Wrap up from the TPB Really worth a read. Thanks to our partners on both sides of the river and our supporters who wrote in on this issue. We've called this project the 'Zombie Bridge' so no promises that it won't re-animate from the drawing board in a few years - stay tuned.
Click here for an end of year letter from our friends at Historic Medley District, the small but mighty organization dedicated to preserving the Reserve's history - including Poolesville's Old Town Hall (pictured here), The John Poole House and Seneca School House. Your tax deductible donation to HMD helps continue this important work.
At MCA we have the mission statement that can be summed up in a paragraph - but also the shorthand version - "We Connect." We connect farmers with land and community, residents with local food, students with a 93,000 acre classroom and those who care to protect land and water with the opportunity to take action and get results.
One way we connect folks is through our Producers Listserve, an email list of more than 100 local farmers who swap know-how and share equipment, when we got the ask from soon-to-open Astrolab Brewery in Silver Spring about finding a farmer to haul off spent grain (pigs love to eat spent grain, it's also a great compost ingredient) - we posted it on the listserve and within hours, brewery co-founder Emma had heard back from two farmers. Emma says, "Thank you! You always go out of your way to support farmers and the community. "
Thanks, Emma - you may have just given us another shorthand for MCA's mission statement.
Folks, in this time of giving, we want to connect with you- please consider becoming a member of MCA with your gift today - or even better - become a sustainer with automatic gifts each month in any amount. And Thanks!
There are many other ways beer and winemakers partner with farmers - some even are farmers. Click here to see the Reserve's local breweries and vineyards.
If you'd like to be part of our Producers Listserve - click here.
Recall that whatever lofty things you might accomplish today, you will do them only because you first ate something that grew out of the dirt. ~Barbara Kingsolver
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.
The 2018 Calendar is Sold Out - thanks to all of those that ordered one. We'll have more next year.
Enjoy the second annual Ag Reserve Calendar with photos from the many farms and open spaces that make up the Reserve. Ready to ship on December 18 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!
Super Moon at Montevideo ~ Martin Radigan
A year in images from Montgomery County's Agricultural Reserve from your friends at Montgomery Countryside Alliance
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.
Learn more about just how amazing the Reserve is.
4 Reasons to Support MCA in our work to protect the Reserve.
Despite collective effort - We were unsuccessful. The loss was and remains painful.
As acres of trees are now being felled, earth moved, creatures and farm land displaced and massive homes being erected on suburban style plots we are reminded of this endeavor but most importantly we are infused with a greater sense of purpose to ensure that this error not be repeated... That we hold that line.
Since that decision, we have ramped up efforts to educate decision makers and the public on the plan and purpose of the Reserve and to grow our farm economy. As we toured the Planning Chair in 2014 she acknowledged the error of the board's decision... too late for this magnificent farm but nonetheless, progress. Our petition for reconsideration
Being a non-profit charged with protecting this special place - we press on. In this giving season, we are grateful for your support.
Executive Director, MCA
This small acreage farm at the well regarded retirement village will provide educational opportunities for the residents as well as sustainably grown produce. We have come to realize that there are many different needs of producers and landowners and getting the fit right takes a little time.
As Gigi says, "In my case, I went through a couple of properties and landowners before finding the right fit for me, a small farm for no till growing with associated housing, so I wouldn't have to commute out to the countryside while living in Silver Spring Maryland. The Land Link program is a great way for new farmers to get started in Montgomery County."
The Rocklands Farm Winery and Market is open every Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. There you can visit their wine tasting room and shop for a wide range of farm products. They also feature local food trucks on Friday through Sunday and live music on “Fridays on the Farm.” You can learn more about other special events, cellar club and educational outreach programs by visiting their website at www.rocklandsfarmmd.com.
I put my hand to the land,
Seems I was chosen as the one,
To plant the trees and raise the fruit
And do the work that’s never done.
Others put their hands to this land,
Building legacies that outlast time,
Each with a vision for a way of life
That I proudly say today is mine.
This peach carries my heritage
Of my father and those who came before.
This peach has the taste of generations
Who loved this land and dreamed of more.
Proclamations were given by Senator Brian Feldman and Kevin Mack on behalf of Congressman Delaney's office. Council members Roger Berliner and Marc Elrich spoke in recognition of the accomplishments of the Scott Family and the need to be vigilant in protecting Montgomery County's remarkable Agricultural Reserve.
Event goers were treated to an incredible artisan's exhibit in Blackrock Center's Kay Gallery featuring Countryside Artisan's works. We are deeply grateful for BlackRock Center for the Arts hosting us and for the delicious and abundant feast provided by MCA board members and wonderful Geppetto Catering.
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Great Appreciation to all that made it out for the 2017 Ride for the Reserve, despite the rain we had a great time! We will be filling this page with pictures (tag yours #RidefortheReserve if you'd please) and appreciation to our riders, volunteers, farm stops (RB Savage &Sons, Rocklands, Kinsgsburys, St Paul Church) music (some places have a house band, we have a barn/shed/ tent band, thanks as always Justin Trawick and the Common Good!) caterers (Geppettos and Wegman's Germantown), the great bike techs from Trek Rockville, our friends at Heritage Montgomery and Steve and all the kind people at the Golf Course that let us change plans! Huge thanks to Denise Cohen who started this ride 10 years ago and event planner extraordinaire Ellen Letourneau!
But then it got even better - a lost dog named Darby had been on the lam for 3 days and recently spotted at the Golf Course. Our plea went out with each biker to call if they saw her. During the picnic, who trotted down the lane but Darby - bikers and volunteers all pitched in to follow her into the woods where her owner managed to coax her out. A happy reunion on top of a great day.
Each biker who registered is now a member of MCA (and will get discounts to MCA events, including next year's bike tour) and we so appreciate your support for the Ag Reserve and its farms. Many were surprised to hear about the proposed Potomac Bridge and Highway that would potentially bisect the Reserve. Your support is more important now than ever before. If all people that love to bike and pick and farm and paddle and hike and enjoy the Reserve commit to its protection, no force can stop us. Thank you!
Lose something? We found a helmet, gloves and a tail light. Ellen@mocoalliance.org
"First of all our kids loved it, the teachers said the lessons were hands-on and supported age appropriate science curriculum."
"Thank your for organizing an incredibly awesome experience that I didn't know existed. "
"The 5th graders extracted DNA from a banana and were really excited about it."
"I love to farm because each day there is something different to get done. From planting and fertilizing to harvest it's something new each day. My grandfather used to say you only get about 50 chances to grow a crop in your lifetime, make the most of every one!" David Scott Jr.
Master Plan Update
Take Action Now
Ten Mile Creek
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 • firstname.lastname@example.org
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.