The Rural Side of Montgomery County
Montgomery County, Maryland is home to a surprising number of rural areas. In 1980, the Montgomery County Council made one of the most significant land-use decisions in county history by creating an Agricultural Reserve, or what the locals call the “Ag 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.
Visit farms in the Agricultural Reserve in the spring for pick-your-own strawberries, blueberries, tart cherries, blackberries, red raspberries, and tomatoes. In the fall, families head out to the pumpkin patch, and during the holidays, they cut fresh trees. From the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain, hikers can look out over the county’s pastoral patchwork of farms and villages, a countryside view largely unchanged since the 19th century.
Farm Facts About Montgomery County
- One third of the county is preserved for agricultural use.
- There are 540 farms and 350 horticultural enterprises.
- Montgomery County has the most acres planted in berries (blackberries, blueberries and strawberries) of any county in Maryland.
- Agriculture contributes over $287 million to the county’s economy annually.
- The county is home to the second-highest number of horses in Maryland (approximately 7,900).
Top 3 Places to Explore
From hiking to biking to breweries and wineries, there are a wide-range of things to do in the Agricultural Reserve. Here are three places that should be on your “must do” list.
Agricultural History Farm Park
The scenic 455-acre Agricultural History Farm Park in Derwood, MD features rolling hills, open fields, an apple orchard, and a variety of farm animals. Get a unique perspective on the county’s rich farming heritage while visiting barns, historic buildings, a modern farming activity center, and other facilities at the park.
King Barn Dairy MOOseum
The King Barn Dairy MOOseum is a dairy heritage museum dedicated to interpreting the rich history of the farms, the families, and related organizations and businesses of Montgomery County. Their stories are told through a permanent collection featuring interactive exhibits and educational programs.
McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area
Top of visitors’ “must see” lists is the sunflower fields at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville. Sunflowers are planted by hand each year to attract game birds. Deer, wild turkey and more than 200 species of birds have been known to wander the park, which is alongside the Potomac River. Peak blooms typically occur in July.