Planning Board Will Be Updated on Agritourism Study on July 11

July 5, 2019

ag farm park

Study will examine agritourism opportunities in Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve

SILVER SPRING, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is conducting the Agritourism Study to identify economic opportunities for the evolution of Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve, including agricultural activities that have grown beyond traditional farming. The Agricultural Reserve was created in 1980 through the Preservation of Agriculture and Rural Open Space Functional Master Plan to protect 93,000 acres of farmland, fields and forests.

The Agritourism Study responds to increasing interest in agricultural education, tourism and entertainment in the Agricultural Reserve. It looks at ways to support economic opportunities with a direct connection to agriculture in this area, including farm-to-table activities and event venues, as well as to increase awareness of the Agricultural Reserve.

Montgomery Planning staff will provide an update on the study to the Planning Board on Thursday, July 11. This briefing will focus on the history, purpose and progress of the Agritourism Study, including information about the Agritourism Study Advisory Committee and its work to date.

About the Agritourism Study

While the 1980 Preservation of Agriculture and Rural Open Space Functional Master Plan focused on the preservation of farming, farmland and rural open space in Montgomery County, it did not anticipate the growing importance of agricultural-related economic development to the ongoing preservation effort in the Agricultural Reserve.

The Agritourism Study builds on the earlier work of the Montgomery County Heritage Area Management Plan as well as studies agritourism practices in Montgomery County and comparable jurisdictions. It seeks to identify opportunities and challenges, as well as develop a menu of potential solutions, to provide a comprehensive and coordinated approach for agricultural economic development. The study seeks to preserve the character of the Agricultural Reserve while also enhancing the economic viability of farming.

The Planning Department formed the Agritourism Study Advisory Committee (ASAC) in October 2017 and formally invited members of the agricultural community, industry experts, government representatives and community members to review the progress of the study and provide guidance at key intervals during the development of the study. The representation on the ASAC is intended to provide a balanced discourse on the current issues, impacts and status of agritourism in Montgomery County.