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Celebrating Montgomery County Farming

A few weeks back, I was grateful to have been invited to attend and speak at the Upper Montgomery County Farmers Club Reception and Dinner, hosted by Charles "Jamie" Jamison (above). It was a pleasure to spend an evening with our gracious host and so many other hard working Montgomery County farmers. Recently, Mr. Jamison was selected for the prestigious Mid-Atlantic Master Farmer Award and inducted into the 81st class of Master Farmers. 


Farming has and will continue to play a vital part in the overall quality of life we are fortunate to enjoy in Montgomery County.  And we need farming to be profitable for the Agricultural Reserve to remain strong.  My experience of our farmers is that they are a mighty independent lot, and take care of their own needs as well as any.  But, that doesn't mean they don't need attention.  They do.  I was pleased to help in the zoning rewrite to make sure that we were making it easy for farmers markets, for there to be composting options, and for there to be educational opportunities in the Agricultural Reserve.   


Another priority for the farming community is technical assistance.  As the Council is currently working through our operating budget, I have urged my colleagues to support additional funding to the Department of Economic Development (DED) budget for use by the Montgomery Soil Conservation District (MSCD). The MSCD helps farmers achieve their conservation goals through the protection of soil, water, and other natural resources. With increasing requirements from the state, the expectations of farmers have only increased, placing necessary but difficult challenges on the agricultural community. It is essential that we provide the appropriate and adequate resources to help this important sector of our economy and community continue to thrive.

A Unanimous Vote to Preserve Our Farmers Markets May 10, 2010
CarrotsI am so pleased to share with you that the Zoning Text Amendment that I sponsored to preserve our farmers markets was passed unanimously by the Council on Tuesday.  We are lucky to have so many wonderful farmers' markets in District 1.  I know that I, along with many people, enjoy attending these markets where families meet and share community news and buy healthy food.

As you may know, one of these popular markets, Twin Springs, was told by the County that they had to cease operations.  Recognizing the importance of this neighborhood establishment and their quality, fresh produce, I took immediate action.  This legislation will allow farmers' markets to operate in residential zones under certain circumstances such as proximity to neighbors and lot size.  We are very excited for Twin Springs and extremely proud of our success in keeping farmers' markets an important part of our life in District 1 and throughout Montgomery County.  I visited our friends at Twin Springs earlier this week to share the good news and picked up some fresh strawberries while I was there!

Preserving Our Farmers Markets February 4, 2010

Farmers MarketsI wanted to give you an update on ZTA 9-11, legislation to preserve farmers markets that contribute so much to our quality of life.  This legislation was written because under current zoning laws, it is illegal to operate a farmers market in a residential zone. 

One of our farmers markets, Twin Springs, was asked to cease operations at the St. Andrews Church in Bethesda.  Recognizing the importance of this neighborhood market and their quality, fresh produce, I took action.  Much thought was given to this legislation resulting in a piece that allows farmers markets to operate in residential zones while considering the character of our neighborhoods.

This zoning text amendment was introduced on November 17th, 2009, a public hearing was held on January 12th, and on January 21st the legislation went to committee for discussion.  Montgomery County Councilmembers, the Planning Board and staff were all extremely supportive of farmers markets and everyone agreed that this was important legislation for Montgomery County.  While modest modifications are contemplated, I remain confident that at the end of the day, we will be successful in keeping our farmers markets an important part of our life in District 1 and throughout the County.


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