From beer to beets, almost 20 Montgomery County farms open to visitors this weekend

Need a quick and easy breath of fresh air? Here’s an option, and it won’t cost you a dime, or much time.

Beyond the tall buildings in Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Rockville and Silver Spring lays a vast agricultural community in Maryland’s Montgomery County — the farmers call it “up-county” — and you can tour some of those farms this weekend.

The 30th annual Montgomery County Farm Tour is July 27 and July 28. It’s free, includes 19 farms, and it is a family-friendly event, with some farms offering hay rides, pony rides, farm animal petting and fresh-from-the-field produce.

Some Washingtonians probably don’t think of Montgomery County as particularly agricultural, but it is actually quite agricultural.

There are 558 registered farms in Montgomery County, covering a total of 65,000 acres, and 76,000 acres of agriculturally-assessed lands — land deeded for only agricultural use, not development — one third of Montgomery County’s land.

Montgomery county ranks third in the nation among U.S. counties for agricultural land preservation.

“We have a very diverse agricultural industry,” said Jeremy Criss, director of the county’s Office of Agriculture.

“We’ve got traditional farmers growing corn, wheat and soybeans, but right now we’re ranked third in the state of Maryland for the total number of horses, and we also have horticulture. We have production nurseries that grow trees and ornamental shrubs and flowers.”

“So between traditional agriculture and equine and horticulture, we have roughly $282 million in total economic contribution to the county’s economy each year.”

This weekend’s Montgomery County Farm Tour is a chance for folks in the cities and suburbs to drive a few miles out of town and get some fresh air.

“What’s really great about the tour is that it provides an opportunity for residents who live down county to spend a day in the up county and to have a farm experience, learn about farmers, get to know the farmers better and to buy fresh, locally grown produce,” Criss said.

You can download the brochure for this year’s Montgomery County Farm tour.

See more about the farm tour in Montgomery County’s video below

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