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Movie Screening on February 4 and Speakers Event on February 11 Examine Evolution of Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve

January 29, 2015

Documentary film and live presentations address current challenges to working farms and landscapes in preserved rural area

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is hosting two public events devoted to the County’s Agricultural Reserve. The first is a free screening of the film titled “Growing Legacy” at noon on Wednesday, February 4 in the auditorium of the Planning Department’s headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD), followed by a question-and-answer session with the film’s producers.

The nonprofit Montgomery Countryside Alliance launched the project to share the story of the County’s Agricultural Reserve with local schools and communities so they might better appreciate this 93,000-acre agricultural area in their own backyard. Through interviews with decision makers, consumers and farmers the 30-minute documentary film profiles the challenges of growing both food and cities in harmony.

The second public event is the fourth session of the Planning Department’s Winter Speakers Series. It will be held on Wednesday, February 11 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD). The series is called “A Once and Future County: Lessons on How Planning Politics Shaped Montgomery County and is hosted by Royce Hanson, former chairman of the County’s Planning Board.

Titled “Creating and Sustaining the County’s Agricultural Reserve,” the February 11 event will examine the 35-year effort to protect the rural area and working farms of upper Montgomery County. The discussion will focus on the technical planning, legal and political challenges that had to be overcome to establish the Agricultural Reserve in 1980. Current efforts to sustain the Reserve’s working farms and preserve the integrity of the landscape will also be examined.

“The County has sustained a working landscape for more than three decades, substantially slowing but not fully stopping conversion of farmland to residential subdivisions,” says Hanson. “The Agricultural Reserve facilitated–some might say, imposed–a more compact pattern of growth and development in Montgomery County compared to other areas in the Washington metropolitan region.”

Joining Hanson at the February 11 event to discuss the Agricultural Reserve will be the following experts:

Tom Hartsock taught and conducted applied agricultural research from 1979 to 2007 at the University of Maryland, where he oversaw the operation of several university livestock facilities and served as the director of the Institute of Applied Agriculture. Hartsock helped revitalize the university’s equine program and serves as an advisor for the ongoing Campus Farm renewal project. He serves on the board of directors of the Maryland Pork Producers Association, Montgomery County Farm Bureau and served on the Maryland Agricultural Commission for six years, two of them as Chair. Tom currently owns and operates Porky Pines Farm in Clarksburg, Maryland.

Chuck Schuster is the University of Maryland’s Commercial Horticulture Extension Educator in Montgomery County. He works with various agricultural operations in the county and region, including pick-your-own fruit and vegetable farmers, greenhouses, nurseries, arborists and landscapers.  Prior to his current work, Schuster taught high school vocational agriculture in Westminster, Maryland, and farmed for 20 years, raising cattle, field crops and vegetables.

Caroline Taylor is the Executive Director of the Montgomery Countryside Alliance (MCA) and has worked on environmental and agricultural issues for most of her professional career. After gaining experience in environmental litigation at the law firm of Covington and Burling, she worked at the National Wildlife Federation before joining the MCA in 2009. Under her leadership, the nonprofit has garnered accolades for its successful efforts in assisting farmers and connecting the various stakeholders of the region’s food system.

– The 30-minute screening of the documentary film, “Growing Legacy,” on February 4 will be held at noon in the Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD). It is free and open to the public.

– The 90-minute Winter Speakers Series event on February 1, “Creating and Sustaining the County’s Agricultural Reserve,” is free and open to the public, and will be streamed online live. It will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Planning Department headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD).

– The next and final session of the Winter Speaker Series on March 11, 2015, “Hunting the Snark: Growth Policy and the Public Interest,” will be held at the same place and time. Speakers will evaluate the 40-year evolution of county growth policy on development patterns. They will discuss the institutional structure of planning in Montgomery County that has led to effective and democratically accountable land use policy.

– Watch the video from the previous Winter Speakers Series event on January 14 that focused on “Trials and Errors of Corridor Cities Planning.”

– Learn more about the Once and Future County Speakers Series and use hashtag: #onceandfuturecounty