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Stay "Ever Vigilant," SCA President Beth Daly
Urges at Annual Meeting
Sugarloaf's 44th annual meeting on April 30 reminded those gathered of the need to be "ever vigilant" - in the words of President Beth Daly - against threats to the Ag Reserve from developers and others who would whittle away at the Reserve's purpose: to preserve and nurture agricultural land use and a rural culture in a 93,000 acre portion of northern Montgomery County - almost one third of the county.
Daly also reminded SCA members and friends of the persistent need to educate Montgomery County residents about the Ag Reserve and the benefits it confers for all who live in the county.
Daly and other speakers - including Casey Anderson, chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board - highlighted SCA's work over the past year to:
• Oppose construction of a second Potomac River bridge that would vastly alter traffic volume and patterns in the Ag Reserve and fail to ease traffic congestion in the county as a whole.
• Support solar and renewable energy development in the county, but not the placement of solar facilities on land zoned and meant for farming. (SCA will install its own solar collectors at the Linden Barn this year.)
• Support the Ten Mile Creek Coalition in its battle to convince the WSSC to install environmentally friendly sewer technology in the sensitive Clarksburg watershed area.
• Oppose the Global Mission mega-church proposed for development off Route 109. Legal battles to block the Silver Spring-based church have been ongoing for several years; SCA has been actively involved in that litigation.
• Support agricultural and farm use easements throughout the Reserve, such as the 3-mile horse trail at Greentree Farm on Peachtree Road. (A developer was trying to weaken that easement.)
• Expand high-speed broadband access in rural areas in the Ag Reserve, to help farmers, home-based businesses, students and residents.
• Nurture understanding of the Ag Reserve and environmental conservation issues among students in the county. Sugarloaf and the Piedmont Environmental Coalition sponsor an annual environmental science project contest for middle and high school students. Sugarloaf also sponsors an annual essay contest focused on Ag Reserve issues among Poolesville High School students. (See item below.)
• Foster local farming, gardening and land management in the Ag Reserve and at Sugarloaf's own Linden Farm. Sugarloaf holds gardening seminars and an annual spring plant swap, and has recently created an apiary at the farm.
Daly reminded attendees that none of Sugarloaf's work would be possible without support from members. As she wrote in her 2015 end-of- the-year note: "From its inception, Sugarloaf has been an all-volunteer organization... But land use attorneys, environmental experts, and communication tools to mobilize and support supporters cost money. And we would not have realized the successes of the past year without investing in that expertise."
If you are not a member please consider joining us to help preserve and protect the Ag Reserve. Membership is $20 per individual and $40 for a family. Click on the button above to find out how to donate.
PHS Student Clara Jackson Wins 2nd Annual Essay Contest
Poolesville High School student Clara Jackson, a junior next year, is the winner of Sugarloaf's 2nd annual essay contest, which carries a $300 cash prize.
Congratulations Clara! (A link to her essay is below.)
Finalists were Kavon Badie, Jen Dunn, and Ankit Sheth. Sugarloaf President Beth Daly, one of the contest's judges, said, "The choice was tough. Many of the essays were very thoughtful and creative. We thank and applaud the students at PHS for participating and look forward to next year's contest."
Jackson, the finalists and several dozen other PHS students submitted essays in response to this "dream farm" challenge:
So, let's say you wake up one day in Montgomery County, MD and your world has dramatically shifted. You brush your teeth, get dressed, and go downstairs only to discover that your home has been transported to a beautiful 100-acre farm located in a section of Montgomery Country called the Agricultural Reserve. You find a note on the kitchen table. Here is what it says:
"Welcome to your new world. The land surrounding you is prime Maryland agricultural land. You will live here for 3 years. You are responsible for managing the farm. You'll find $100,000 in a checking account in your name to get you started. Have fun!"
A fantasy, of course. But can you imagine being a farmer? What would you do with the land? Would you plant crops like corn or soybeans, or perhaps raise cattle or sheep? Or start a horse farm and riding school? Or maybe you'd grow grapes to sell to wine makers. Or plant an orchard.
We invite you to write a brief essay explaining what you would do with the farm and why, and how it would enhance the Ag Reserve.
Here's the beginning of Clara's essay, with a link to the full text at the bottom.
There are a wide variety of crops grown and livestock raised in the Montgomery County ("MoCo") Agricultural Reserve. Some of the most prominent crops grown include corn, soybeans, wheat and barley. If I had an opportunity to manage a farm in the Ag Reserve, I would try a different crop. While many would choose to grow the established crops, I believe that it would be beneficial to diversify the Ag Reserve by introducing a new crop - hops. This would offer my new farm a niche so that my farm wouldn't have to compete with older, more established farms. It would also help expand the economy of the Agricultural Reserve, because new crops attract new businesses and people. If I was given a farm in the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve, I would grow organic hops (specifically Cascade, Golding, Nugget, Chinook, and Fuggle hops) to sell to the various craft breweries in the DC-Maryland - Virginia area.
Link to full essay.
Anne Sturm Receives 2015 Royce Hanson Award
Left to right, Oakley Johnson, Beth Daly, Maureen O’Connell, Anne Sturm, Caroline Taylor, Royce Hanson, and Jim Brown.
Anne Sturm, long-time SCA member and a past president, received the 2015 Royce Hanson Award in a ceremony at SCA’s Linden Barn on October 18 attended by about 100 people. The award is given in recognition of outstanding commitment to the protection of Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve. Presented each year by the Montgomery Countryside Alliance (MCA), the award is named for its first recipient, Dr. Royce Hanson. Hanson is the former Chair of the Montgomery County Planning Commission and was the original architect of the Ag Reserve.
Anne, who moved to Sugarloaf Country in the 1960s to breed Arabian horses, has been a tireless promoter and protector of the Reserve, both as an individual and in collaboration with an ever-widening network of people and groups that she continues to help sustain. In the mid-1970s Anne was an early member of three groups that still exist - the Historic Medley District (HMD), Sugarloaf Regional Trails (SRT) and SCA. At SCA, Anne helped push for county-wide recycling and fought against ill-conceived land uses that would limit farming. As SCA President in 2010-2011, Anne led efforts to scale back Barnesville Oaks and oppose the Global Mission Church.
Anne’s impact is not just local. In 1978 she was a founding member of the North American Bluebird Society. And she continues today to monitor local nest box trails, working with local golf courses and mentoring others to protect the habitat of numerous bird species.
We congratulate Anne on this accolade and thank her for her enormous contribution to SCA and preserving the Ag Reserve.