On Thursday, March 8, 2018, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett announced the expansion of the Green Business Certification Program to recognize farm operations certified through the USDA Organic and/or Certified Naturally Grown programs. Certified farms will now be included in the County’s Green Business Directory along with approximately 80 other businesses.
The announcement was made at the Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park. Acting Director of the County’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Patty Bubar; Maryland Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary Steve Connelly; Montgomery County Director of Agricultural Services Jeremy Criss; Montgomery County Food Council Executive Director Heather Bruskin, Montgomery Countryside Alliance Executive Director Caroline Taylor and several certified farmers joined Leggett for the announcement.
“Sustainable and local farming are vital to our green economy,” said Leggett. “Our County has an enduring farming heritage and we must all do our part to build a more sustainable community for future generations.”
Both the USDA Organic and Certified Naturally Grown standards require a full commitment to organic practices – no synthetic pesticides, fertilizers or genetically engineered seeds – and include a focus on building and conserving soil nutrients through compost, cover crops, crop rotation and other practices.
“With Montgomery County’s program there is potential for an exciting multiplier effect,” said Alice Varon, executive director of Certified Naturally Grown. “I am not aware of other jurisdictions using third-party certification standards to recognize sustainable farming practices, but it offers an easy, ‘off-the-shelf’ program.”
Gigi Godwin, president and CEO of MCCC, echoed this sentiment. “This program’s unique ‘umbrella’ structure facilitates recognition of businesses certified through 10 different third-party standards across multiple business sectors ranging from offices, to restaurants to cleaning companies and now, I’m happy to say, farms are included, too! I hope it catches on everywhere.”
Leggett presented certificates to six farmers who achieved certification through one or both standards. A few other farmers were recognized for submitting their applications for certification. The County intends to raise awareness of these environmentally responsible farms to help local consumers easily identify them and spur other farmers to embrace sustainable practices.
The following certified Farms are now included in the County’s Green Business Directory: