Program Looks To Attract New Farmers To Montgomery County | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Program Looks To Attract New Farmers To Montgomery County

Play associated audio
Woody Woddruff, the founder of the Red Wiggler Community Farm in Germantown, Md., shows off his cherry tomatoes to County Exec Isiah Leggett.
Matt Bush
Woody Woddruff, the founder of the Red Wiggler Community Farm in Germantown, Md., shows off his cherry tomatoes to County Exec Isiah Leggett.

Leaders in Montgomery County have unveiled a program designed to attrack and keep new farmers. They say it's the first of its kind in the country.

Farm incubators, where new farmers learn how to plant crops and work the land, usually only last two to three years. After that, the farmer must find their own land and start the process of readying soil and crops all over. What makes the new Montgomery county program unique is that it combines traditional farm incubators with the ability to lease land from private land owners.

Woody Woodruff started Red Wiggler Community Farm in Germantown, Md. He says demand for produce has grown rapidly in the past decade, but when he started the farm in 1996, he had to learn about agriculture on his own. Woodruff says looking back, he wishes he had had the help of a mentor.

"I didn't see certain things," says Woodruff. "Weeds have a story to tell.  I've had to learn that."

Woodruff served on a task force that is helping the county create a pilot program to offer mentors to new farmers. The program will also match those farmers with private land owners who will lease them land. County executive Isiah Leggett says the combination of the two makes the county program special. He adds it will also help fight off the pressure to develop the county's agricultural reserve.

"By getting more people involved and newer farmers, than you maintain the interest in farming," says Leggett. "If you lose that interest in farming, if you can't turn that over to your children, or grandchildren, or other younger people coming in, then those pressures become far greater than they otherwise would be."

The land leases under the program run for at least five years — a timeframe Woodruff says is usually long enough for a farmer to get their land into prime crop-growing shape.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, June 3, 2015

A play and an exhibit explore luxury, power and how women present themselves and are perceived.

NPR

Chimps Are No Chumps: Give Them An Oven, They'll Learn To Cook

That's what researchers found when they gave chimps a device that appeared to work like an oven. The findings add to the argument that our ancestors began cooking soon after learning to control fire.
NPR

Sen. Menendez's Corruption Trial Hasn't Begun, But Legal Sparring Has

The Justice Department indicted the New Jersey Democrat just two months ago on bribery and conspiracy charges. But lawyers in the case already seem to be getting under each other's skin.
NPR

Experts Debate: Will Computers Edge People Out Of Entire Careers?

Machines have been taking jobs forever. Computers and software are doing things people were paid to do. They are booking airplane flights. Filing our taxes. And they are getting better all the time.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.