As the year draws to a close Montgomery Countryside Alliance gives heartfelt thanks to our members and supporters. With your invaluable help, we have led many initiatives this year. Here are a few:
• MCA, along with partners in the Farm Bureau, Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation and Ag Services, successfully launched a new state of the art staffed Mobile Ag Lab that will visit every Montgomery County elementary school, providing hands on instruction that will expand students’ knowledge of and appreciation for how good food and fiber are grown locally. The lab has already been hosted at several County schools.
• We’ve been taking our award-winning short film, “Growing Legacy,” on the road to help educate students and community groups outside the Ag Reserve about its value to area citizens (GrowingLegacyMovie.com)
• Our Land Link program continues to grow- matching farmers with landowners — leading to the addition of over 400 acres of new or expanded local farm businesses (MoCoLandLink.org)
• We led the charge to maintain and build on protections for Ten Mile Creek and the backup water supply for the 4.3 million area residents it feeds. The organization we founded – Friends of Ten Mile Creek and Little Seneca Reservoir- is already proving to be tenacious guardians of our watershed.
• We are standing firm against antiquated transportation projects that cause sprawl and other non-solutions to traffic issues – such as the Virginia Outer Beltway and the new proposal for a Potomac River bridge south of Poolesville. We understand that there are moneyed interests in the Reserve that support the proposed bridge.
• We are connecting neighbors at all income levels with local food and reducing food waste by partnering with Manna Food Center’s Community Food Rescue initiative and working to connect local farmers with acreage in partnership with the Crossroads Community Food Network.
• We are building a strong local rural community- including promoting full County high speed internet connectivity and defending against conflicting land uses that emerge through lack of zoning enforcement or loopholes in County regulations.
As we have for the past 15 years, MCA will continue to take on threats to the Reserve and local water supplies- whenever they come. We have had our ear to the ground and our shoulder to the issues in Montgomery County. However, as a small nonprofit, we depend on County residents’ tax-deductible contributions.
Please join us. Membership starts at just $25/year. Add your voice to our growing membership to protect our water, farms and open space right here in Montgomery County.
P.S: We are proud to be honored a second time as “One of the Best” small nonprofits in the DC region by the Catalogue for Philanthropy. It is your support that makes us the effective local organization we have become. Thank You!
Our film “Growing Legacy” tells the story of the farms and farmers on metro’s edge in Montgomery County’s Ag Reserve. The film has been hitting the road- at local screenings and even internationally- winning the Royal Reel Film award at the Canadian International Film Festival . If you’d like to screen the 30-minute film for your community or school, please get in touch- Ellen@mocoalliance.org
Pick up your copy of the Growing Legacy DVD below. The $15 price includes shipping.
Please use our secure Pay Pal portal below or if you’d rather send a check : MCA PO Box 24 Poolesville, MD 20837 (please put “DVD” in the subject line)
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Since its successful premiere at the Universities at Shady Grove before an audience of 250, MCA’s short documentary Growing Legacy has been making the rounds. The film has been screened by agencies such as Maryland National Park and Planning, local civic groups and film festivals such as DC Environmental Film Festival. The film is promoting interest in the Agricultural Reserve and more- also sparking conversation about agriculture and food in general and the need to be more engaged in our food system whether through education or consumerism etc. Growing Legacy garnered a Royal Reel Award for Short Documentary from the Canadian International Film Festival.
MCA’s Outreach Coordinator Ellen Letourneau has been working tirelessly to arrange screenings and panel discussions as well as get the DVD’s shipped and in schools, libraries and elsewhere. Click here for more on how to how to arrange or attend a screening or purchase the film.
photo by Lee Langstaff
As we were putting together our ambitious 2015 work plan, we got thinking about all of the things we have achieved together with our supporters in the last few years. There is much left to do and we could use your help.
What has MCA done for me lately? Well…
Our Shared Environmental Resources
Set Ten Mile Creek (backup water supply for 4.3 million) on the path to protection … but there is more to do
Supporting a Strong Ag Sector
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
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Did you have trouble buying Growing Legacy Premiere tickets? Never fear- you don’t have to have a Pay Pal account and you can use any major credit card- click here to try again.
If you’d rather send a check- just put “Growing Legacy Tickets” on the memo line, made out to Montgomery Countryside Alliance (or MCA) and send it along to : Montgomery Countryside Alliance PO Box 24 Poolesville, MD 20837
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Thanks for funding Growing Legacy!
We will keep you updated on our progress by email. If you want to contact us about the movie- drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
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What keeps the wheels of agriculture buzzing? The answer is bees. Scientists have been documenting huge die-offs in bee population, thought to be the result of an over-reliance on chemical pesticides. The critically acclaimed new movie, “Queen of the Sun” is a meditation on this Colony Collapse, and efforts to help bees bounce back. MCA is hoping to host a screening of this movie, in the mean time, here is the trailer. Have thoughts on the trailer, join the conversation on our facebook page.
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When Carlie Koiner was growing up, MoCo was all farms. Charlie is now 83 and the 1 acre plot he farms behind his house in downtown Silver Spring is the only MoCo farm below the beltway. This tenacious farmer has caught the attention of local documentary film makers and his story ‘Corner Plot’ will be featured next week at SilverDocs, the documentary film fest hosted by the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring. See the Gazette article for info on all three showtimes. We highly recommend the trailer.
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Keeping Farming Viable:
As the years have passed in the Reserve, long time farmers have retired and often sold off land for non-agricultural uses, sometimes out of economic necessity… sometimes, not. Those purchasing the land may desire profit, not from working the soil, but from building upon it. It is, in part, because of those expectations that the cost of raw farm acreage has skyrocketed. Aspiring farmers face a daunting task: how to acquire land either by purchase or lease, increasingly expensive farm equipment, farmland management knowledge in an area where the soil is often marginal and rain sometimes scarce and the sound business acumen to get through it all without losing their shirt. One must wonder: who will face the challenges of becoming a new generation of farmers? Yet, in spite of all these challenges: there are those eager to live and work on farms. County and private initiatives that provide funding assistance and education can help keep farming viable. The public can help by insisting on, and buying, locally produced food products.One solution -our Land Link Program
While many value the Agricultural Reserve for all that it offers: food production, habitat preservation, historic preservation, recreational opportunities and more- there are still others who continue to view it as a holding ground for future development and industrial/institutional uses. The challenge is to make the importance of the Reserve a regional issue and to ensure that value is perceived from preservation of place and purpose, and not the dollar value that some perceive may come of its exploitation. Solutions – Ag Education for county students both young and old, Reserve tours for decision makers and an award winning film that captures the wonder of the Reserve.
Sand mounds are alternatives to traditional septic systems. They were provided for cases of failed existing systems and for homes for children who will continue to farm the land. Unfortunately, this provision has been misused to facilitate development that is not agricultural in nature.
Private Institutional Facilities (PIFs)
The scale of these proposed facilities dramatically contrasts to the rural character of the Agricultural Reserve. If built, these institutions threaten to take acres of land out of agricultural production, increase traffic, and degrade our watersheds with polluted run-off from large parking lots.
Originally created to allow children of farmers to build homes and to live on family property so that the farm will endure, the child lot provision has been abused so that additional houses are built and then sold on the open market. There is is an opportunity to tighten language so that the true intent of the original provisions can been enforced: to promote the continuation of agricultural use on the land.
Highway through Reserve?
Virginia continues to have on its 6-year transportation plan, an outer beltway or “techway” (we call it “truckway”) This plan calls for a bridge over the Potomac, bisecting the Agricultural Reserve. This project represents over $1 billion expenditure, creates more traffic congestion than it would solve and spawns development in rural and semi-rural areas. Vigilance will be necessary to ensure that this plan is not realized. A full report on the increase in sprawl and traffic caused by this proposal is here.
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Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. – John Muir
Montgomery’s Ag Reserve is 35 this year and growing strong! That is cause for celebration! Explore our web site to learn more! Watch this short video that briefly captures some of the opportunities that are waiting in our own backyard!
Check out the trailer for our newly released film, Growing Legacy!