I want Montgomery County to be a place where we grow more of our food locally. I believe in the power of the local food movement to raise consciousness about health and environmental issues.
Urban farming: backyard chickens and bees
Many residents of Montgomery County have contacted me to express their desire to raise chickens and bees in their backyard as a food source and/or hobby, among other reasons. Like with any pet, if the owner is responsible, then these practices are perfectly compatible with our neighborhood quality of life. I know because my neighbors have both chickens and bees, which are a delight for my children.
However, some zoning regulations have made it overly onerous to raise backyard chickens and bees in many of the County’s suburban and urban areas. This is why I worked with local urban farming advocates, including activists from www.montgomerycountybackyardchickens.org to protect their ability to raise chickens and bees during the council’s process of making changes to the zoning code.
Preserving our farm-land Ag Reserve for future generations
About 40% of our county’s land has been protected from development by reserving it for farming through the creation of the Agricultural Reserve. It is one of our county’s great resources, and I oppose development there. I also worked hard to allow our farmers to create educational uses on their farms, to help make farming an experience that more of our residents can share.
Putting healthy (and local) food in our schools
As a parent of two young boys, one of whom just began kindergarten, making sure that healthy food is served by MCPS is a priority for me. That is why I am supporting Real Food for Kids Montgomery (a project of the Chesapeake Institute for Local Sustainable Food and Agriculture) to promote greater wellness in our schools. I sent a letter of support for these goals to Dr. Joshua Starr, the superintendent of MCPS, earlier in 2013. You may read more about this important effort here.
These are some of the initiatives I have focused on to strengthen the cause of local food in Montgomery County. I welcome hearing from you about these issues, and I am here to work with you in the future.