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Attention Horse Farm Owners: Montgomery County is offering free advice on managing pastures and barns in ecologically sound ways. See this link for more information.
Montgomery County seeks citizen
input on the plan for the Boyds
and Germantown Marc rail
stations at several meetings in
March. See this link for dates,
times and other details.
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2015 - Another Productive Year
Protecting the Ag Reserve
Happy New Year! 2015 was another busy year for our volunteer team. We took action and met challenges on a number of important fronts to preserve the rural legacy of the Agricultural Reserve, including:
Public Easement at Greentree Farm (formally Barnesville Oaks) on Peachtree Road - We testified before the planning board on the importance of keeping the original terms for Greentree Farm’s development. Specifically, we oppose replacing an “easement” with a “covenant.” That would be a dangerous precedent. We will work with EPIC and other groups to appeal the decision.
Second Potomac Bridge Crossing - Gov. Hogan in 2015 decided to take another look at the feasibility of a second bridge over the Potomac. Along with other groups and several Montgomery County elected officials, we met with Maryland Transportation Director Pete Rahn to present research that shows another bridge will not resolve traffic congestion. We support instead widening the American Legion Bridge.
Broadband Access - High-speed broadband is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity for businesses and citizens. We’re working closely with other stakeholders, residents and Montgomery county officials to explore ways to expand broadband access to all who live and work in the Ag Reserve.
Ten Mile Creek Sewer Proposal - We were among the earliest members of the Ten Mile Creek Coalition and we continue to strongly support Friends of Ten Mile Creek as they work to convince the WSSC to install environmentally friendly sewer technologies in this sensitive watershed in Clarksburg.
Inaugural Essay Contest - We partnered with Poolesville High School educators to design and rollout an essay contest about how living in and/or attending school in the Ag Reserve impacts student’s lives. Ron Domingo, a senior, won. Check out his essay below.
None of our activities would be possible without your continued support. For 43 years, Sugarloaf Citizens Association has been an all-volunteer organization. But it takes more than sweat to get the job done right. Land use attorneys, environmental experts and communication tools cost money. We thank you for your generosity in the past and hope you’ll continue to support us in 2016 and beyond. Visit this website for updates throughout the year and don’t hesitate to tell us what’s on your mind.
Warm wishes for a prosperous and joy-filled 2016!
No Solar Panels at Former Organic Farm
In a letter to Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) officials, Sugarloaf Citizens Association opposed the installation of a large-scale solar panel array on the former Brickyard Organic Farm in Potomac. While Sugarloaf is supportive of the county’s investment in renewable energy, the proposed solar installation would take prime organic farmland out of production. Although this property is not in the Agricultural Reserve, it has been organically farmed for 30 years, and its isolation from other farmland helps prevent cross-fertilization with non-organic crops. Our letter urges the county and MCPS to instead put solar panels on existing school system buildings. Solar panels onbuildings also deflect heat from buildings in the summer, reducing the need for air conditioning. A copy of the letter is here.
Sugarloaf is concerned with the placement of large-scale solar panel arrays on farmland in the Agricultural Reserve - as solar panel companies eye farmland in our area. We believe that the place for solar panels in the Ag Reserve is on buildings or over impervious surfaces - not on the ground, destroying fertile farmland. As Sugarloaf President Beth Daly says in the letter: "The county shouldn’t be destroying green spaces in the name of being green.”
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.
Poolesville High School Student Ron Domingo
Wins Sugarloaf Citizens' Association's
First Creative Essay Contest!
In an effort to get Poolesville High School (PHS) students--nestled in the midst of Montgomery County's Agricultural Reserve--to reflect on the role of local agriculture and conservation efforts SCA launched a creative essay contest. We worked closely with PHS educators, Allison Wilder, Tiffany Ayers and Leigh Hegmann, to design the question, promote the contest, and build a panel of "citizen judges" located throughout the Ag Reserve. After reviewing the submissions, Ron Domingo's essay was selected. The judges were impressed with how well he captured the spirit of Montgomery County's Agricultural Reserve with his own personal story. In our minds, he managed to lessen the distance between Poolesville, Maryland and Midsayap, Cotabato--no small feat! Ron will receive the prize money: $300.
We enjoyed reading all the entrants' creative essays and plan to turn it into an annual contest. Enjoy the below "summer read" by Ron Domingo!
Note: A special thanks to our panel of judges: Lee Langstaff, John Clayton, Peter Eeg, Anne Sturm, and Joyce Bailey. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Ellen Gordon and Steve Findlay. We worked as a team to take this idea to reality.
President, Sugarloaf Citizens Association
The Farm Life
by Ron Domingo
I grew up in Midsayap, Cotabato in the wonderful country of the Philippines. It is a small town, yet to be hit by the great force of commercialization and industrialization. The people of the town vary, some are squatters with no permanent home while others live extravagantly in fortified estates. Despite their differences, however, all these people share one thing in common: farming. In Midsayap, it is almost impossible to find a person who neither owns a farm nor has ever worked on one. Outside the central hub of the small city center lie hectares upon hectares of rice, corn, mango, coffee, coconut, banana, vegetables and root crops. As people come and go, and as generations pass through, their farms remain to this day.
My family moved to the United States when I was six years old. We moved to Germantown, Maryland - a drastic change from our life in the Philippines. As I grew accustomed to life in the suburbs and in the developments of cities, I began to forget about the integral practice of farming. It was not until I got accepted into the Global Program at Poolesville High School that I remembered the lifestyle in which I grew up in and realized just how important farming really is.
The first time my parents and I visited Poolesville, we were very confused. Coming from a very developed area of Montgomery County, we had no idea a school, let alone a magnet school, could be in the middle of nowhere. We had no knowledge of the Ag Reserve at that time and only saw the fields of crops and questioned if we had taken the wrong turn. After about a month of going to school in Poolesville, I finally learned what the open fields and rows of crops were all about. I then went to my parents and told them that Poolesville is in the Ag Reserve and how farmers own acres of land to which the only purpose is farming. My father's immediate reply was "Only acres? We had hectares of land in the Philippines!" I was surprised by his reaction. My father then noted that even in the Ag Reserve they are technologically miles ahead of the farming practices done in the Philippines. Up till that point I had almost forgotten about that aspect of our lives in the Philippines as I had gotten so used to life in the United States.