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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
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
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.