Practical Preservation: National Trust’s “Barn Again” Program!

The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Barn Again” program recognizes historic barns as working assests for sustainable farms and provides  practical, up-to-date information and technical assistance to barn owners. 

Site Offers Guidance for New Farmers!

Young farming families are growing in the Reserve!

Here’s a site that offers a fair amount of helpful information, including grant/funding opportunities.  Check it out!

Understanding and Protecting Ag Reserve’s Groundwater!

Map of Piedmont Aquifer

Montgomery County’s Ag/Openspace Reserve is, by design, wholly outside the WSSC service area.  Reserve residents, farms and businesses rely on ground water from the federally protected Piedmont Sole Source Aquifer- which also stretches into Frederick, Howard and Carol Counties. According to the EPA, because the aquifer has just one source and serves such a wide swath of communities,  the aquifer  ”if contaminated, would pose a significant hazard to public health.”

Whether you reside, work or play in the Reserve, understanding the finite and fragile nature of this high quality resource is important.  We can all work to protect it and continue to enjoy it’s high quality sustainably.  See these links for more information.

USGS Water Science Center

MDE Groundwater Protection Program

National Groundwater Association

Montgomery County Water Resources Master Plan Appendix

Calling all photographers! Deadline extended!

Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Reserve by capturing the beauty of its edge habitat:  hedge and tree rows!  MCA’s photo contast is open to all and provides a great opportunity to get out doors and use your talent!

Deadline extended due to demand: 9/1/2010

See here for details.

Reserve’s Schools: Time for a County policy!

MCA has been serving on the “Poolesville-Monocacy Roundtable“  which has finished a several month period of meeting and conferring to address Mr. Weast’s determination that Monocacy Elementary School be closed because, though at 86% capacity, it fell under a newish criteria that no school have less than 300 pupils. Moreover, Mr. Weast indicated that both Poolesville Elementary and John Poole Middle School could follow suit under his enrollment guidelines.  Poolesville, Clarksburg, Northwest, Darnestown clusters, the Ag Reserve and others schools were represented during this collegial process.  In the end, their was consensus (unanimous) that the BOE and the County should issue a policy that Montgomery County’s rural schools be afforded a special status due to the fact that they are wholly located in and serve community within the Ag Reserve, which is by design low in population.  The group felt that it would be discriminatory to hold Reserve community schools to the same standards as  those schools located in densely developed portions of the County.  Such a policy would support the existing legislation, zoning and policies that seek to protect the Reserve and promote continued, and expanding, local farming.  Mr. Weast’s notion that there is a problem was disputed.  It seems, with this closure proposal, as if the Reserve, a nationally recognized model for farmland/openspace preservation, is being penalized for its success!

Follow the links for MCA’s Letter to the Montgomery County Board of Ed, and  Position Paper written for the Monocacy Roundtable (both pdf).

Update: The 15th District Representatives have shown solidarity for this policy by sending this letter to the Board of Ed.

See groups list of options to address the issue.

Gazette Coverage and May 24th public meeting information.

Gaithersburg West: Now -Great Seneca Science Corridor

Great Seneca Science Corridor: Big name for big development.  Developer lobbyist’s efforts have paid off and Council has passed the master plan with minor compromise to community.  See following links for details:

Protecting Pollinators: How you can help!

Photo by Hilary Schwab

Erin Auel is positively abuzz about what we can do to promote pollinators in our own landscapes.  Her senior project for the Poolesville  High School Global Ecology Program blends hands-on – creation of 2 pollinator gardens at the school- with research – a useful collection of resources for us to consult when planning for and planting our own gardens.  Not  only are these gardens beautiful and alive with flight and sound, they are practical for the health of our food system.  Destruction of tree and hedgerows and loss of habitat due to development as well as growing dependence on landscape and agricultural chemicals has put great strain on the pollinator population.

So, take a look at these resources that we found…and let’s get growing!

Maryland’s Wild Acres Program
National Pollinator Week – June 21-27, 2010
Friends of Sligo Creek – Pollinator Page
Central Maryland Beekeepers Association
Selecting Plants for Pollinators
Wild Farm Alliance – promoting farming practices in harmony with nature


Poolesville: Going Green!

Poolesville’s Commissioners have approved alternative energy projects under certain conditions and have established a new farmer’s market in Whalen Commons this growing season.  This is good news for area residents and such initiatives should be applauded.

See Gazette Coverage.

It’s Unanimous: Francoise Carrier Planning Chair!

The County Council in  9-0 vote has chosen Francois Carrier as next Planning Chair.  The is a critical decision that will affect communities undergoing master plan revision/review.  Moreover, this comes at a time when the Planning Commission and its staff have been hit with budget and staffing cuts.  Ms. Carrier will, from the beginning, find challenge in facing these challenges.  By all accounts and appearances, she will meet these challenges ably Read more.

Sustainable Ag Activists from India Tour Reserve

It has been a fantastic whirlwind of activity in the Reserve thus far this 30th year!  On Monday, May 10 (magnificently beautiful Spring weather), MCA, joined by Gordon Clark of Montgomery Victory Gardens, gave a tour to Saahthi Revathi, her 11 year old son Natish,  Uma Shakari and Surekha Krishan (their American sponsor) of Association for India’s Development (AID).  We visited two local organic/sustainable farms, Rocklands Farm and One Acre Farm, and traded stories of the land and challenges to its stewardship.  We learned more than we could possibly have imagined with regard to sustainable/organic land management and resource conservation. 

Sadly, we learned also of  the dire situation that India’s farmers now find themselves in at the hands of manufacturers (Monsanto) of genetically manufactured seeds and the chemicals upon which they depend. The starting statistic shared with us:  5 farmers in India commit suicide every hour, every day because of the inability to pay debt associated with purchase and chemical cultivation of the now often mandated GMO seeds.  Please take a moment to visit the link.  MCA has provided the activists contact information for additional U.S. media that can shed light on this horrible, avoidable, tragedy. 
Our shared afternoon was inspirational and reinforced the need for a call to action here in this country.  Consumers should demand truth in labeling and choice with regard to their food.  We can, with our wallets, promote local, sustainable food production.  The Reserve, already a model of brilliant land preservation planning, is on the cusp of becoming a model for promotion of sustainable, diversified farming.  The vitality of the farming industry here will foster even greater regional support for the continued preservation of the Reserve – it will be our best argument in the face of growing challenges. We are very grateful to Janis Glenn and the “Rocklands Boys” for their repeated generosity in hosting our tours – complete with food, spirited conversation and even a tractor ride for young Natish.


Click here for more on the story of India’s farmers.


Sharing lessons from the land


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