The question was raised in the County Executive Green Forum - what actually grows in the Ag Reserve? Quite a lot! Here is our attempt to cram all the fruit, vegetables, livestock, herbs, dairy, fiber, spirits, partnership, resilience and joy that grows in the Reserve in just 2 minutes. (Rather just the dry data? We digest the most recent Ag Census results for the county here)
But Wait! There is even more! There is a misconception that commodity crops grown in the Reserve are somehow "not food." Check out what happens to all that winter wheat.
What are the candidates' views on the highest and best use of our protected farmland (plus climate, transportation, Thrive and more? We asked and here are their unedited answers.
Two new Reserve farm markets are up and running this summer. Despite the Ag Reserve's local food production, it is in fact a food desert as the last grocery store closed some years ago. Like in urban areas, farmers markets can bridge the gap when full service groceries are not available.
First up, Cozzi Family Farm Co-Op Market. We connected the Cozzi Family crew with about 2 acres in Poolesville to expand their pastured poultry operation through Land Link. They have gathered a number of other farms, crafters (including face mask makers) and another Land Link match - Wildflower Farm of Dickerson. The market is happening both days each weekend in the Bassetts parking lot on Fisher Ave. See the flyer below:
Next up - Locals Farm Market with produce, pastries and pottery ordered online and either picked up or delivered for a fee.
If you are full up on produce from your own backyard and have extra to share - here is an opportunity to share with hungry folks in MoCo.
Thrilled to get word of a new volunteer venture that connects folks with extra garden produce (and honey and eggs, not meat, dairy). See the flyer here for details of easy drop off locations and contact info. The organization involved also host drop-offs down county - find those here.
As part of the Thrive 2050 campaign to update the county's general plan, the planning department is hosting a number of panel discussions on big topics. We were proud to be the moderator for the first topic - 'The Future of Food'. Our own Caroline Taylor moderated a discussion with Ben Butler of Butler Orchard, Greg Glenn of Rocklands Farm, Darryl Perkins of the Broccoli City Festival and Hannah Shoulder of the Koiner Center for Sustainable Farming It was an over capacity crowd on a rainy evening to connect and discuss how we feed ourselves and our neighbors in this new decade. You can see the whole session below.
January 14, 2020 Thrive Montgomery 2050 Winter Speaker Series
As busy as we get, Thanksgiving is still a time that we return to time-honored traditions. These rituals still rely on local farmers. Give thanks for our local farmers by sourcing your feast locally!
Turkeys: (Please Note - pre-ordering ASAP is essential for local turkeys-get in touch as soon as you can)
Whether you are making an old favorite or finding new side dishes to try - they will be better with local ingredients grown right here in MoCo. A Farmers Market the week before Thanksgiving is a truly joyful place. Find your market here.
And this just in - if you need a lot of sweet potatoes our friends at Purple Mountain Organics can take your order for 50 lbs or more.
Stephanie's Secret Garden Flower Shop and Gypsy Flower Farm are offering a class to help you create gorgeous table arrangements for Thanksgiving. Stephanie can also create something gorgeous for you - like she did for our Farm to Fork Dinner.
For the Vegans:
Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary hosts a Thanksgiving WITH the Turkeys each year (Nov.23 this year) - a vegan potluck for human visitors and all sorts of treats given to the Turkeys and other residents of this Ag Reserve sanctuary.
Wine and Beer:
Rocklands Farm Winery
Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard
Waredaca Brewing Co.
Brookeville Beer Farm
Farmers—Get Tax Credit When Donating Surplus Food to Charity
The Farm Food Donation Pilot Program, signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan, allows eligible farmers to take a tax credit for donating unsold surplus farm products to charitable organizations. This three-year pilot program that began in 2017 is available to farms located in Anne Arundel County, Calvert County, Charles County, Montgomery county, Prince George’s County and St. Mary’s County. “This is a way for Maryland farmers to further help their communities and ensure their harvest does not go to waste,” said Governor Hogan.
To claim the credit, farmers donate products to non-profit charitable organizations that are Certified Tax Credit Administrators. Farmers fill out a simple MDA Food Donation Pilot Program Form for each food donation and submit it to the non-profit. Non-profit food providers become Certified Tax Credit Administrators by completing and submitting the Application for Tax Credit Administrator Form to the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA). Both forms can be found on the Maryland Department of Agriculture website (scroll down right side of the page).
This is great opportunity to claim the tax credit during the pilot program. The program is due to expire December 31, 2019. State House Delegates Ebersole and Young recently introduced HB 403 to extend the Farmer Tax Credit to all Maryland Counties through 2022. Please share this tax credit opportunity with farmers and non-profit food providers. Contact Delegates Jay Walker firstname.lastname@example.org and Anne Kaiser email@example.com with the form below to support HB403. It is a win-win-win!
More info here
Tanya Spanhla approached MCA back in 2014 to find land through our Land Link Program to grow some of the crops from Zimbabwe, her homeland. The following year she enrolled in the county's New Farmer Program - run by Montgomery County in partnership with MCA and the County's Ag Extension office. She started Passion to Seed farm on leased land in Germantown and aquired the expertise of the community through MCA's producers listserve when geese were ravaging her produce. She grows items that fellow immigrants have had trouble finding here (see her harvesting pumpkin leaves in this clip from MPTs Farm and Harvest show).
For those who have never run across it - the most factinating of her crops is the Kiwano- or horned melon. Looking like a heavily defended cucumber with deep emerald coloring and dull spikes, Kiwano has excelent health benefits and a fresh, cucmber-like taste. If you'd like to try it now's your chance, MCA has connected Tanya with Rockville's Dawson's Market and they now stock it. Eat it raw out of the spiky rind or wow friends and family this holiday with the fancy cocktails below.
Tanya's story is a perfect example of how we at MCA build support around a farm to help it not just survive, but thrive. Connecting farmers with farm land is the beginning - followed by fostering strong community and connection with fellow producers and consumers that help the farmer set down roots and prosper.
It takes a lot for a farmer to grow a farm (I mean, geese? Who saw that coming?) but you have to grow farmers first- and have farmland available.
Across Maryland, we lose an average of 20,000 acres of farmland per year. We will continue to build the resources that farmers need to thrive but we count on your suport to make it happen. Please make MCA part of of your end-of-year giving plan with your tax eductible donation.
Horned Melon Champage Cocktail served IN the prickly melon (perfect for New Years Eve)
Cheers From Your Friends at MCA!
by Caroline Taylor
A Little Farm Market Gem in Olney, MD
Published by Montgomery County Food Council
"The Common Ground Market" opened on June 12. Market Wrap-Up Here. A great time was had by all, hoping you can come back again every Second Sunday through October. The market is looking for more vendors- apply here.
The Press Release announcing the market debut is here.
Montgomery County Park's has kindly agreed to host the market at Owen's Park in Beallsville. The new market represents the joyful fact that the number of small, diversified and sustainable family farms are growing in the Reserve. A number of the farms are owned/operated by women who have come to the Reserve to employ their craft. And now they are coming together to share their work with you and in the Reserve so that consumers can shop and experience this remarkable place. Licensed food trucks will be there too as well as some cute critters for kids to enjoy!
Supporting local farms and local food is the core of MCA's mission. Support Montgomery's Ag Reserve Donate Here.
by Caroline Taylor
We've been salivating already for this season's cherries, peaches, plums, pears and apples. But Mother Nature... is in control.
by Caroline Taylor
The Ag Reserve is a big place, about 100,000 acres, and there is much to explore. We will populate this post with as much as we can, when we can. Shoot us an email with suggested additions: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you just aren't sure what the Reserve is all about and what it has to offer, may we suggest checking out our film Growing Legacy? Our goal to to inspire exploration and consumerism of the wonderful places and goods the Reserve has going on.
2015 Montgomery County Farm Directory
by Kristina Bostick
That Happened: Friday, February 27 at 10am - St. Paul Community Church, 14730 Sugarland Road, Poolesville
by Kristina Bostick
Our Land Link program has achieved another match! We started Land Link to overcome what local farmers identified as the biggest hurdle to starting or expanding local farms- the astronomical cost of land- as explained by Woody Woodroof from Red Wiggler Community Farm in our "Growing Legacy" Film.
Click here to see our Land Link site and sign up to find or offer land for lease.
by Caroline Taylor
The Ag Reserve's promise grows with the success of new farm ventures. Montgomery County's New Farm Program, now past the pilot point with a number of successful ventures launched, is ready for Round Two! The New Farmer Project provides mentoring and specialized business training like marketing, accounting, business planning and advanced sustainable farm practices. By matching new farmers with private land owners (with assistance from MCA's Land Link program) throughout the Agricultural Reserve, the program's participating farmers are singularly focused on growing their businesses instead of finding new real estate.
by Kristina Bostick
What has MCA done for me lately? Well...
Our Shared Environmental Resources
Supporting a Strong Ag Sector
Connecting New and Expanding Farmers with Land
Strengthening the Producer Community with a Listserve and Summits
Successfully Pushing for a New Farm Pilot Program
Proud Lead Organization of the Farming at Metro's Edge Conference
Supporting A proposed year-round daily farmers market in North Potomac
Connecting farmers with new opportunities under the new County Zoning Code
Producing "Growing Legacy" film about the Reserve for students and the public
Creating an Ag Reserve Candidate Questionnaire/Voter Resource
Creating an Ag Education Pilot - 180 students reached so farHelping to Found the MoCo Food CouncilKeeping Monocacy Elementary Open
No Commercial Recreation or Camps in the Ag Reserve
No Sewer Extension for Mega Churches
Battling Back Plans for Massive Cell Towers
Currently working on supporting new farm businesses and expansion of sourcing local farm products in County stores/restaurants. We are pushing to add to our farmland inventory for the LandLink program. Our education initiative has expanded and we are working with MC Farm Bureau to secure funding for mobile ag science lab for the use of the County's elementary schools. How about that! Every elementary school student should have exposure to what farming is all about and why our Ag Reserve is so special.
And the list goes on and on... help us add more victories to this list- join MCA - a yearly membership is just $25
by Caroline Taylor
Montgomery County Ag Services has posted the data from the 2012 Ag Census. Looks like MC equine industry is flourishing. What about the other ag businesses? Check out the summary here.
In this chart comparing 2007 data to that of 2012 - Good News! You will see an increase in land in production and the market value of products sold.
With a resurgence of interest in farming and the burst of consumer interest in locally produced food products, the forecast is good for our area farms.
by Kristina Bostick
Growing Legacy Premiere
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 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.