Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve (Aerial Video Included)

Courtesy of Montgomery Planning: Montgomery County is home to a surprising number of rural areas. The forward-thinking 1964 General Plan focused growth in defined corridors emanating from the population centers in and around the Capital Beltway. Between those corridors, the General Plan called for wedges of low-density residential uses, open space and protected farmland. The rural areas encompass the 93,000 acre Agricultural Reserve along with the larger rural communities of Damascus and Poolesville; small crossroad communities such as Beallsville, Sunshine and Dickerson; and areas with mixed open land and housing. Aerial video available below:

@themocoshow Aerial view of Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve. One-third of Montgomery County, or 93,000 acres, is designated as the Agricultural Reserve. #AgReserve #MoCo #AgriculturalReserve ♬ Way down We Go – KALEO

The Agricultural Reserve

In 1980, the Montgomery County Council made one of the most significant land-use decisions in county history by creating what we call the Agricultural Reserve. Heralded as one of the best examples of land conservation policies in the country, the Agricultural Reserve encompasses 93,000 acres – almost a third of the county’s land resources – along the county’s northern, western, and eastern borders.

The Agricultural Reserve and its accompanying Master Plan and zoning elements were designed to protect farmland and agriculture. Along with a sustained commitment to agriculture through the county’s Office of Agriculture, the combination of tools helps retain more than 500 farms that contribute millions of dollars to Montgomery County’s annual economy. This is a notable achievement in an area so close to the nation’s capital, where development pressure remains perpetual and intense.

Building Lot Termination (BLT) Program

Established by law in 2008, the Building Lot Termination Program (BLT) is a farmland preservation tool. A BLT easement restricts residential, commercial, industrial and other non-agricultural uses on a given property. The primary purpose of a BLT easement is to preserve agricultural land by reducing the fragmentation of farmland resulting from residential development.

Creating a BLT easement can provide additional compensation to a landowner who can demonstrate that his or her land is capable of residential development and agrees to forgo that development and terminate the approved waste disposal system associated with the lot.

Learn more about the Building Lot Termination Program.

How Can Residents Enjoy the Agricultural Reserve?

Although primarily a working agricultural landscape, the Agricultural Reserve offers county residents a plethora of activities. Check out the Reserve’s many opportunities — pick-your-own fruit farms, a winery, bike routes and pastoral scenic vistas — in a resource guide and map(opens in a new tab), produced in collaboration with the Montgomery Countryside Alliance(opens in a new tab). Beyond that, the Reserve represents a historic landscape as well as a resource that protects our public water supply and provides access to green open spaces.

For more information on agricultural preservation programs, farmers markets, and the Cooperative Extension Service, visit Montgomery County’s Office of Agriculture(opens in a new tab).

How does the Agricultural Reserve protect farmland?

In 1980, after determining that there was a critical need to protect productive farmland in Montgomery County, the County Council and Planning Board adopted a Master Planaccompanied by a series of land use regulations and incentives designed to minimize inappropriate development, avoid the fragmentation of farmland by subdivision, strengthen agriculture and channel growth to down- county growth areas through rezoning with a transfer of development rights program.

The Master Plan was one of the first comprehensive plans for preservation of agriculture and rural open space that was linked to an established countywide growth management program.  Its primary tools include:

  • Agricultural Reserve (AR)
    A zoning district created for the primary agricultural preservation areas within the Agricultural Reserve, with agriculture and related activities as its preferred uses. Residential development is limited to no more than one dwelling unit per 25 acres, although individual lots can be as small as one acre.
  • Rural Zone and Rural Cluster Zone (R and RC)
    The two other primary zoning districts within the Agricultural Reserve, the rural and rural cluster zones, are used in areas featuring a mix of farmland, open space and low-density housing. Residential development is limited to no more than one dwelling unit per 5 acres. In the rural cluster zone, individual lots can be as small as one acre.
  • Transfer of Development Rights (TDR)
    This is the primary mechanism to provide equity compensation to landowners in the RDT zone. TDR transfers residential development potential from the farmland preservation areas of the Agricultural Reserve into areas designated as better suited for growth.

Also see the Preservation of Agriculture & Rural Open Space master plan.


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17th Annual Kensington Day of the Book Festival

Now in its 17th year, the Kensington Day of the Book Festival is a family-friendly street festival featuring 150+ renowned authors, poets, and literary organizations. Enjoy live music on five stages, special guest speakers, military veteran writers and comedians, poetry readings, cookbook demos, children's program, and much more.

Admission is free, and attendees will also be able to explore a marketplace of books and food offerings from local vendors.

Not your average book festival! This festival offers something for everyone!

17th Annual Kensington Day of the Book Festival

Sunday, April 21, 2024, 11am-4pm (held rain or shine!)

Howard Avenue, Kensington, MD 20895

Instagram: @kensingtonbookfestival

Contact: Elisenda Sola-Sole, Festival Director

[email protected]

301-949-9416 (text preferred)

FEST OF SPRING Caribbean Wine Food & Music Festival

Get ready to experience the vibrant colors, tantalizing flavors, and infectious rhythms of the Caribbean at the FEST OF SPRING Caribbean Wine Food & Music Festival! Hosted by RHU LLC, this exciting festival is set to take place on May 18, 2024, at the picturesque 16700 Barnesville Rd in Boyds, MD.

Step into a world where the Caribbean spirit comes alive! From 12:00 PM onwards, immerse yourself in a sensory journey that celebrates the unique culture, cuisine, and music of the Caribbean. Whether you're an African American, a Reggae or Soca music enthusiast, a wine lover, or part of the vibrant Caribbean diaspora, this festival promises to delight and captivate you in every way.

Let the enticing aromas of mouthwatering Caribbean dishes tantalize your taste buds. Feast on traditional delicacies prepared by expert chefs, showcasing the rich and diverse culinary heritage of the Caribbean. Indulge in flavorful jerk chicken, succulent seafood, and delectable plantain dishes that will transport you straight to the islands.

Accompanying the culinary extravaganza is a carefully curated selection of premium wines, ensuring the perfect pairing for your palate. Sip on fine wines from renowned vineyards, each sip a reflection of the Caribbean's vibrant spirit. Discover new flavors, expand your wine knowledge, and savor unforgettable moments with every glass.

As the sun sets, get ready to groove to the infectious rhythms of Caribbean music. Feel the pulsating beats of reggae, soca, dancehall, and calypso, moving your body to the lively melodies. Live performances by talented musicians and performers will keep the energy high, ensuring a night of unforgettable entertainment.

Don't miss this opportunity to embrace the Caribbean spirit and celebrate the arrival of spring in style! Tickets are available on AllEvents, so secure your spot today. Join us at the FEST OF SPRING Caribbean Wine Food & Music Festival, where cultures collide and unforgettable memories are made.



2 NIGHT Camping packages available: RV/CAMPER $200 | TENTS $150 Starting on Friday May 17 @ 5pm | 30 RV SPACES | 30+ TENT SPACES



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