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Montgomery County Farm Tour was Great!

August 4, 2012 Green Blog No Comments

Naomi Bloch



  • Montgomery County Farm Tour Montgomery County Farm Tour Brickyard Educational Farm sign painted by the kids that are learning about farming and planting.
  • Montgomery County Farm Tour Montgomery County Farm Tour Brickyard Educational Farm. Sophia Maravell stops to show group the drums used to hold the non-GMO and heirloom seeds.
  • Montgomery County Farm Tour Montgomery County Farm Tour Calleva Farm. Ben the chef. Buying some of their fresh farm produce with bus tour bus in background.
  • Montgomery County Farm Tour Montgomery County Farm Tour Rocklands Farm founder and farmer, Greg, taking a grill order.
  • Montgomery County Farm Tour Montgomery County Farm Tour Button Farm Living History Farm
  • Montgomery County Farm Tour Montgomery County Farm Tour Button Farm. Tony Cohen talks about and demonstrates slave collar devised to prevent runaways.
  • Montgomery County Farm Tour Montgomery County Farm Tour Button Farm. This is very heavy!



August 4, 2012

Potomac, Md

By: Naomi Bloch

I am here to report back on Montgomery County’s Farm Tour weekend.  It was a wonderful experience and was made even more so by the camp-style bus ride organized by Bethesda Green.

We first stopped by the Brickyard Educational Farm on Brickyard Road in Potomac.   Farmer Sophia Maravell explained to us how she and other young farmers have been teaching children in the area about growing food and raising chickens on the farm this summer.

Some of you may have heard about this controversial farm, also know as Nick’s Organic Farm.  For the last fifteen months I and hundreds of other concerned citizens have been fighting to save this unique treasure for the benefit of all students in Montgomery County.

The farm sits on  taxpayer supported Montgomery County School Board land.  In my opinion, and I am far from alone in this thinking, this land should first and foremost be kept and used for outdoor educational programs.  At least three separate pieces of legislation have been passed in Annapolis, Md requiring this sort of outdoor educational experience.  Yet sadly, this land is on the verge of being turned over to a private soccer organization to establish two, four pay-to-play, elite soccer fields.

And Montgomery County citizens were left completely out of the decision that farm land be turned over to the soccer organization.

This will remain a controversial issue and one that certainly will not get settled in a blog post.  I promise to re-visit this topic and update you all on the fate of the Brickyard Educational Farm in future posts.

For now, I simply want to express my deep appreciation to Bethesda Green for including this very special farm in their tour route last Saturday.  Bethesda Green included two farms that were not listed on the official Montgomery County Farm Tour weekend maps.

The other farm  was Calleva.  When we arrived at Calleva we were treated to pumpkin raviolis and fresh, still warm bread made for us by Ben, the resident chef and person in charge of the garden and the “Dirty Dinners” that Calleva hosts three times a year.  Check out the link above for more details on Calleva and all the various programs they offer.  After we all enjoyed our this locally sourced and prepared snack, Ben took us on a tour of the garden and showed us the chickens, pigs, cows, and even a donkey.  I look forward to returning to Calleva to experience it in different seasons throughout the year.   They even host a very scary haunted forest that is not for the faint of heart.  This is precisely why I will be skipping this particular offering.  But, if you have, or are a teenager, or older and are into being scared, then I hear it is a must-experience activity to celebrate Halloween.

Our next stop was The Rocklands Farm.  We had the chance to partake of some of the food they produce right on the property.  I enjoyed a juicy grass-fed beef burger.  There was a vegetarian offering as well as an Italian sausage option.  Check out Rocklands link to learn more about all that they do and offer and when you can stop by to enjoy an afternoon on this very pleasant farm.

Final stop of the day was at The Button Living History Farm where we were greeted by Tony Cohen.  Tony is a historian and founder of The Menare Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization that runs this farm and is dedicated to the preservation of Underground Railroad history .  Through assistance and training, Menare works with individuals and organizations to preserve the Underground Railroad legacy using history as a resource for community revitalization, race dialogue, and cultural growth.

Tony told us about plans for developing this farm into an 1850’s living history experience.  We were shown the working vegetable garden where they are growing and preserving seeds from the earliest days of this country.  They also produce “heritage” animal species, the latest additions being the “Cotton Geese”.   Tony explained that the geese were used by plantation owners to weed between the rows of cotton, especially after they could no longer use slave labor.

Tony then sat us all down in the outdoor pavilion and gave a captivating history lesson.  He told us about and demonstrated a device that slave owners used to prevent slaves from escaping.

In the photosyou can see this device and the young woman who offered to be the stand-in slave in order for Tony (with two other assistants) to show us all how this device would have been screwed around the neck of a slave.  This “collar” weighs about twenty pounds and with its barbed hooks at each point would have made escaping a virtual impossibility.

Tony has retraced the Underground Railroad path from Georgia to the Canadian border.  He thought of doing so part of the way while wearing this device, as some slaves still attempted escape even while locked into such a device.  Tony decided against it when because he could easily break his neck with the device on.

To say that this was a sad and sobering lesson would have been an understatement.  Tony explained that there had been other more tortuous devices created in attempts to prevent slaves from escaping.

My thoughts turned to all the historic films and mini-series I have seen in my life and museums I have visited where I can’t recall ever seeing or hearing about these barbaric and inhumane devices.  While this is still a painful shared history in our country, I urge you all to make a visit to The Button Farm and learn more about The Underground Railroad and 1850’s farming from a true expert.

The tour left us with a lot to think about.

On Sunday, my daughter, Andrea and I were determined to get some farm fresh, just-picked peaches.  This hunt took us to Heyser Farms, Inc., 14526 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring. Our mission was fully accomplished and then some when we left with not only white and yellow peaches, but jars of pickled asparagus, vanilla peaches, tomatoes, and various other farm fresh goodies.   It is peach season now, so if you and your family love peaches like I do, then I urge you to head over to Heyser Farm and stock up before it’s too late.

Happy exploring and eating over the remaining days of summer.





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