MCA 2015 Year in Review

(photo: Lee Langstaff)

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 (

• 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 (

• 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.

Looking Ahead….

• 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!

“Growing Legacy” Host a Screening or Buy the DVD

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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-

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)

Visit the Growing Legacy Site to Learn More

Growing Legacy Film Garners Honors and Festival Screenings

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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.

What Has MCA Done for Me Lately?

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

Supported Successful Urban Tree Legislation

Rebuffed Efforts to  Increase Previous Surface  Allowed in County Development

Protecting Against a Potomac Bridge Crossing and Outer Beltway that would Bisect the Reserve

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 far

Helping to Found the MoCo Food Council

Keeping 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

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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

Many Thanks!

Lee Langstaff at Sepherd's Hey Farm (Dan Ross of the Gazette)

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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

A new movie about Bee Colony Collapse (Video)

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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.

A farm in Silver Spring (really!) makes SilverDocs

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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.

Threats to the Ag Reserve

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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

Public Perception:

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

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.

Child 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.

A Place With Purpose…

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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!


MCA is proud to announce that we are 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.

Please Join Us

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