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2015 Plant Swap Continues
Early in 2008, with winter settled on the landscape of the Ag Reserve, avid gardeners and SCA members Ellen Gordon and Bev Jernberg were pondering seed orders and chatting wistfully of spring. It was too early to garden, but it wasn’t too soon to dream about gardening. And thus was the idea for the SCA plant swap born. The Board enthusiastically supported the idea, and Linden Farm opened its gates for the first swap on Sat., May 10, 2008.
Local wisdom holds that this area has never seen a frost after Mother’s Day, so it’s safe to put warmth-loving plants like tomatoes in the ground that day--hence the choice of that Saturday in 2008. SCA didn’t know if anyone other than our volunteers would show, but lo and behold we had a hit. People even arrived early! And so it has been, right through our 7th annual swap this past May 9.
From experienced gardeners with plants to give away and sell, to newbies exploring what they can grow successfully in our area, an eager and genial crowd showed up again this year. As much social event as a source for plants--with homemade baked goods, vendors selling locally made-on-the-farm products, compost bins and Leafgro available--the plant swap successfully mixes community building, one-on-one learning, lots of gabbing and a touch of fundraising to help preserve the Ag Reserve. This year saw folks sharing shade garden plants, berries, hosta divisions, veggie plants, native saplings, iris corms and more.
Thanks again to all who came, and especially to the volunteers who came early to set up and stayed late to clean up. The tradition will continue in May 2016. Happy gardening this summer!
Sustained Momentum as SCA Enters 43rd Year
SCA's leadership at the March 14 annual meeting:
SCA’s 43rd annual meeting on March 14 was well attended and lively. Beth Daly, SCA’s president, opened the meeting with a celebration of accomplishments over the past year. Those include, most notably: fighting the Ten-Mile Creek development; testifying against the proposed gun range near Sugarloaf Mountain; legal actions against the proposed 118,000-square-foot Global Mission Church; and testimony before the County Council in favor of the successful initiative to replace the use of styrofoam containers in restaurants, grocery stores, and other food establishments in Montgomery County. (See below.)
from left to right, Dick Hill, Carrie Laurencot, Ellen Gordon,
Beth Daly (president), and William Price
SCA attorney Michelle Rosenfeld updated attendees on the Global Mission Church litigation, indicating that no immediate end to the legal fight was in sight.
State Senator Brian Feldman, who represents Montgomery County, keynoted the meeting. He gave an overview of environmental and other issues confronting the state in 2015. To applause from attendees, he said an Up-county bridge across the Potomac into or near the Ag Reserve was highly unlikely to be built in the foreseeable future. The Montgomery County Council is solidly (9-0) against the bridge. SCA opposes it, too.
Jim Brown, president of the SCA-affiliated Piedmont Environmental Education Foundation, announced the winners of financial grants for the year: Gaithersburg Elementary School ($1,000) for a construction of a vegetable garden for use by students, MCPS Outdoor Educational Center ($1,000) to assist in the additional environmental training of twenty-five teachers, Rocky Hill Elementary School ($708.00) for a garden project entitled “No Child Left Inside,” and three schools, Sligo Middle, Julian West Middle, and Earle B. Wood Middle Schools received $1,000 each for a project entitled “Trout in the Classroom.”
|Isaac Hill and his 6th grade teacher Alyna Raynovich representing the Earle Wood Middle School in Rockville, winners of a Piedmont Environment and Education Foundation grant.
Conversation about Impacts of
Zoning Code Re-Write in the Ag Reserve
A meeting on Montgomery County’s “Comprehensive Zoning Code Re-Write” on February 27th in Poolesville generated a robust discussion on opportunities for farmers, producers and landowners in the Ag Reserve. The Division Manager of the Montgomery County Agricultural Services Division, Jeremy Criss, briefed about 70 attendees and fielded questions. The code was adopted by the County Council a year ago and became effective on October 30th. You can find a link to the new code on our website at www.sugarloafcitizens.org under “Resources.”
Some farmers and landowners expressed an interest in being able to host more educational and entertainment events to help bring in revenue to sustain their farms and businesses. They were concerned that the new code would limit them to holding a maximum of 9 “ticketed” events per year. Discussion ensued about balancing the right of farmers and landowners--such as Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard on Comus Road and Rocklands Farm on Montevideo Road--to expand the number of events they hold without precipitating a situation in which roads in the Ag Reserve would be clogged with traffic on weekends and noise from the events--sometimes amplified live music--would upset nearby residents.
Montgomery Countryside Alliance sponsored the meeting and pledged to follow up on the questions raised. Sugarloaf hopes to be of help to all the stakeholders and residents in the Ag Reserve as we navigate the new zoning code and new emphasis on agricultural education and tourism. Please let us know what you think by emailing our President, Beth Daly, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Garden season is almost here!
Read these helpful notes from SCA’s January 25
Midwinter Garden Dreams meeting for helpful hints.
Styrofoam Ban Becomes Law
It’s one of those things that drive us all a little crazy -- seeing plastic and styrofoam cups and food containers on the side of our roads, in our lakes and rivers, at our parks, and bulging out of garbage cans. That’s why SCA in the fall of 2014 strongly supported a bill in the Montgomery County Council that would ban the use of styrofoam food containers and require all commercial food establishments in the county -- restaurants, grocery stores, and cafeterias -- to use compostable or recyclable containers instead. The bill also banned polystyrene packing peanuts.
We’re happy to report that the bill became law in January and takes effect in January 2017. The District passed a similar ban last year. Montgomery County also joins New York City, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle as localities that have prohibited the sale or use of plastic foam food service products.
Our 2014 Achievements!
2014 was a busy year for our volunteer team at the Sugarloaf
Citizens Association. As an organization dedicated to the protection
and promotion of the Agricultural Reserve’s rural legacy, Sugarloaf
took action and met challenges on many different fronts. Below is a
short synopsis of some of our most significant work and achievements this past year:
Global Mission Church — Plans to build a 118,000 square foot
mega-church facility—larger than the Nashville Convention
Center—on a piece of property in rural southern Frederick County
with no public sewer or water are on hold because of legal action
brought by Sugarloaf, MCA, and local residents.
Old Arsenal Gun Range — The applicant withdrew its proposal for
a gun range when faced with a well-organized campaign that
expressed resident and local business concerns. Sugarloaf joined
the Sugarloaf Alliance and many others to testify before the
Frederick County Planning Board in opposition to the proposed
large-scale, high caliber gun range at the base of Sugarloaf
Mountain, a designated conservation area.
Ten Mile Creek — Sugarloaf was one of the earliest members of the
Ten Mile Creek Coalition (TMC). Sugarloaf board members testified
in front of the Montgomery County Council and Planning Board;
met with elected officials and planning board staff; and, financed
scientific research. Thanks to the TMC efforts, there will be
hundreds fewer acres of asphalt, making for a healthier creek, solesource
aquifer and emergency drinking water supply for over 4.3
million in the metro area.
Although Sugarloaf remains a volunteer organization, and has been
since its inception nearly 42 years ago, it sometimes takes more
than sweat to get the job done right. It costs money to employ land
use attorneys and environmental researchers whose expertise is
invaluable to our past successes. Please consider making a donation.
There is more work to be done in 2015, including advocacy for
broadband access in the Ag Reserve and a MCPS rural schools
policy. Please join us and thanks in advance for your support.