Last weekend, local farmers welcomed families from around the area to celebrate their bounty and the 16th Annual Montgomery County Farm Tour & Harvest Sale. Held in conjunction with the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Montgomery County Maryland’s Agricultural Reserve, an agricultural land preservation program that consists of more than 90,000 acres, the farm tour drew a record turnout.
According to Melanie Choukas-Bradley, program and education director for Celebrate Rural Montgomery, a nonprofit consortium of farm businesses and other groups, the weekend was the most successful in its history.
At Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, a 400-acre nonprofit farm in Poolesville that is dedicated to providing a permanent home for farm animals rescued from abuse or abandonment, more than 600 people showed up to stroll the green pastures and pet the animals. Horses, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, hens and turkeys co-exist as if each and every one understands that Terry Cummings and David Hoerauf, co-founders, have given them permanent refuge.
Not far away at Homestead Farm, flowers bloomed and beckoned visitors with as much abandon as the ripe fruit and vegetables gleaming in the sun. Families came, some stayed, some strolled, others sat under the large trees in the shade as children stretched tentative hands toward a goat or chicken, often for the first time.
Eleven farms, including Catoctin Vineyard, a Blue Ribbon Alpaca Breeding farm, Rock Hill Orchid and the King Barn Dairy "Mooseum" participated in the tour and provided an opportunity for people to visit working farms and enjoy rural Montgomery County.
For more information, visit the following Web sites: www.animalsanctuary.org, www.montgomerycountymd.gov/agservices, www.ruralmontgomery.org, www.homestead-farm.net, www.butlersorchard.com.