Year-round education center brings community to Fox Haven Farm

Frederick News Post
Ike Wilson
More than 65,000 new trees and shrubs have been planted on the 582-acre farm, which has been certified for organic hay and vegetable production under the Maryland organic certification program. The farm’s conservation, forest stewardship and nutrient management plans guide land-use decisions, but Fox Haven has added a year-round ecological retreat and learning center that offers sustainable practice, weekend or daylong bootcamp workshops, stream walks for exploration and discovery, career and art workshops, and map and compass learning sessions.“For over 30 years, Fox Haven’s forest and farmland have been a proving ground for innovative, sustainable farming practices to restore the health of the land to protect the water quality of Catoctin Creek, and to provide habitat for wildlife,” according to the farm’s mission statement “While we have worked informally to share those practices with others over the years, in 2011 we set a goal to make that information more widely available through an education center that is open year-round,” said Renee Bourassa, the learning center’s deputy director.

Frederick County group eyes farm growth rights

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
The nine people charged with designing a market for selling farm growth rights agree that the new program should be straightforward and promote agricultural preservation. Reaching consensus on the details could be another matter, and time is in short supply. County commissioners gave the work group a November deadline for hammering out a proposed transfer of development rights program. While the group spent its first three meetings discussing options for the program, they still have some knotty issues to untangle, such as whether shifting growth rights would actually increase development rather than preserve farmland. A TDR program allows farmers to sell their subdivision rights to other property owners.

Wrongheaded suggestion

Frederick News Post
Bob White
Frederick County Commissioner Billy Shreve's suggestion for reverse bidding on properties seeking agricultural preservation funding possibly could save the county some money. However, as with many of the cuts and changes in county programs made by this board, it seems to reflect only a desire to appear to save money ... and no consideration for the intent of the program.