Until World War II, Montgomery County's economy and landscape were primarily agricultural. The American Indian tribes of the county grew corn, squash, and beans on their villages near streams. The earliest settlers from Europe grew tobacco for profit on small farms and large plantations, often with enslaved labor. In the 18th and 19th century, local agricultural reformers encouraged citizens of the county to diversify their crops from tobacco into grains, fruits, and vegetables. A new agricultural industry—dairy farming—was made possible in the county with the coming of the railroad in 1873. Trains delivered fresh milk from Montgomery County's creameries to nearby Washington, D.C.
Development pressures on the county increased in the second half of the 20th century with growing suburbanization. In 1980, community organizers and county planners helped create the Agricultural Reserve. More than 90,000 acres of farmland in northern and western Montgomery County are protected—including the open fields that surround you now.
Establishing The Agricultural Reserve
In 1980, the Montgomery County Planning Board and County Council made one of the most significant land-use decisions in county history by voting to set aside more than one-third of the county's land for agricultural uses. The
Agricultural Reserve - widely heralded as one of the best examples of land conservation policies in America encompasses 93,000 acres, or a full third of the country's land resources along the county's northern and western borders. Designed to protect farmland and agriculture, the Reserve helps retain more than 500 farms that contribute millions of dollars to Montgomery County's annual economy, a notable achievement in an area so close to an urban center such as our nation's capital. The Reserve also offers county residents a plethora of activities from pick-your-own fruit farms to scenic bike routes.
Visit these beautiful Park-owned barns (below).
1. Bussard Barn, Derwood, MD
2. Zeigler Barn, Clarksburg, MD
3. Waters Barn, Germantown, MD
4. Woodlawn Barn, Sandy Spring, MD
Scenes of Montgomery County's Agricultural heritage from the days of animal power to modern tractors.
The Agricultural Reserve and Montgomery Parks are committed to preserving both land and the agricultural landscape.
American Cream draft horses cultivating young corn.
A team of mules, four abreast, discing a field after plowing.
"One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, "What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?"
—Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder
Rachel Carson Conservation Park is one of the most important natural areas in Montgomery County. Settled by Quaker farmers who had a gentle approach to caring for the land, the park contains a rich, mature upland oak forest that harbors large trees, dense patches of mountain laurel, a variety orchids and other uncommon and rare plants, and a rich collection of birds and other wildlife.
Please help us protect this unique area by following all park regulations and showing respect for the park's natural and cultural resources.
· Trails are designated as hiking and equestrian use or hiking only. Please use only trails designated for your mode of travel.
· Biking is not permitted in the park at any time.
· Please stay on trails. Walking or riding off trails damages fragile plants and animals.
· Do not disturb any rocks, plants or animals.
· Please keep horses off trails for 24 hours after a soaking rain.
· Keep dogs on a leash less than 6 feet long at all times.
· Clean up after pets.
Leave nothing but footprints take nothing but memories