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Thanks to all that were able to join us for the this session: see the wrap up here.
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.
How about zero? Montgomery County is joining some other metro regions that have already pledged to move toward zero waste. It starts with getting the data and brainstorming and researching ideas. The recently released Solid Waste Plan notes that Montgomery County currently has a 55% recycle rate and projects to be at 70% by 2023.
To that end, we are happy to serve on the County's Zero Waste Task Force in partnership with other local leaders. The work to be done here dovetails with the on farm composting plans we helped guide with the County earlier this year. There is also a push to close the "waste-to-energy" facility in Dickerson that is long past it's planned life and a safety concern given the Covanta fire last year. MCA's board received a presentation from Mike Ewall of The Energy Justice Network about how all the promotion of incineration as a "clean and green" option for non-recyclable waste is not accurate and hides some very toxic byproducts. Landfills of course are not much better- it's time to reduce our waste at its source as there are currently no good options for these non-recyclable materials.
Part of implementing any bold plan is getting feedback as you go to make course corrections. To that end, we want to hear from you on how our waste disposal systems are currently working and what your household would be willing to do to reach the zero waste goal.
What’s old is new again and the economics are promising!
Hemp can now be cultivated under certain conditions in Maryland thanks to this year’s legislation now signed into law by Governor Hogan. Big thanks to Delegate David Fraser Hidalgo and his team for their tireless work in seeing this through.
Why hemp production in Maryland?
Farmers and businesses have been quickly getting up to speed on how best to proceed in Maryland. The question of start up costs has rightly been raised especially with regard to equipment. MC producer Joe Orlow offers, “The specialized machinery can be perhaps be obtained and shared by forming a co-operative of hemp farmers. The labor intensive nature does not have to be a downside. As example, Growing Warriors under Mike Lewis has found employment for veterans.”
Pending Federal Legislation is co-sponsored by 1/3rd of the Senate and a recent resolution touting its potential benefits just passed this month.
More - economic and environmental benefits:
Forbes : A win for Industry and environment
The Guardian: The Plant that Could Boost America's Economy
Our Previous Post on Hemp
There was a productive stakeholder meeting in May 2018 at the MC Farm Bureau. To learn more drop us a line firstname.lastname@example.org
Update - May 1
The Council is still working on the details of the County's Ten Year Water and Sewer Plan. They are making sure that home owners with septic systems in rural residential areas have all the tools needed should they experience or clearly be at risk of septic failure. Important stuff.
Council will take this up again in June. Stay tuned...
The Montgomery County Council today voted 5-4 in favor of the Elrich Amendment to the Water and Sewer Plan.
This is good news for our rural communities and Ag Reserve. The Elrich Amendment is aimed at preventing unnecessary sewer sprawl, which threatens our clean stream areas with higher-density urban development, sewage spills, leaky sewer pipes, and stormwater pollution. Cheers to those who took action and our partners including West Montgomery Civic Asso., Conservation Montgomery, MC Sierra Club, Potomac Conservancy, Audubon Naturalist Society. 🌟Our core team: Diane Cameron, Ken Bawer and Susanne Lee. The best!
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 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 9 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. As a 501c3 nonprofit - MCA can not endorse but we seek to provide information on where the candidates stand.
Below are the unedited questionnaires received from each candidate who returned them by the deadline, we are grateful to those who took the time in the busy election season. Check your voting status and find your sample ballot with all candidates here.
County Council At-Large
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
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.
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.
3 years in - 31,500 Pre-k-5th Grade Students Served So Far, 51 MoCo Schools Visited
Back in 2015 MCA was proud to partner with the Montgomery County Farm Bureau on a passion dear to both organizations - connecting the next generation with education about the importance of farms and farm products. The plans for this collaboration came out of our Farming at Metro's Edge Conference in 2013. The education took the form of a big mobile laboratory, provided by Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation (MAEF), stuffed with hands-on exhibits and activities about the role of agriculture in the everyday lives of students, and a trained educator to walk kids through it.
To date, the mobile labs have visited 51 Elementary Schools in Montgomery County and 31,500 students have walked through its doors. The lab will visit every Elementary School in Montgomery County by the end of 2019. For a hands-on science field trip - you can't beat one that brings the experience to the school property.
The lab experience is getting rave reviews from teachers and students:
"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."
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.