Montgomery County farm offers tours of fields, encourages residents to source produce locally


DICKERSON, Md. (WDVM) — One Acre Farm in Dickerson, which actually has been a very deceptive name, took community members around their 34-acre farm to show them how their fruits and vegetables are grown and where local produce comes from.

Michael Protas has been a farmer for almost 20 years. His farm has since grown from 1 acre to 34 acres and is a Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) Farm. He uses sustainable farming techniques like composting, planting cover crops in the fall when the fields are not in use to capture nutrients, and using drip irrigation to save water. The farm is also chemical-free, meaning Protas does not use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Protas uses organic fertilizers are derived from naturally sourced materials.

Protas explained people should support local farmers rather than taking a trip to the grocery store, especially in Montgomery County.

“We are so close to a major metropolitan area, that when people can have the ability to come out and take 30 minutes away from downtown D.C. and be right here and see that food can be grown still locally,” Protas said. “Most of the time we think of food being grown in California, or in Mexico, or in Chile, [it] is never really grown right in your own backyard.”

One Acre Farm also partners with a compost company, Compost Crew, to create a mutually beneficial operation where food scraps are returned to the farm to grow the next season’s vegetables. Thomas Fazio is an Organic Solutions Manager at Compost Crew. He explains composting is a way for people to have a direct impact on the environment. By composting at home and using the composted material or even giving it back to local farmers, it will eliminate the buildup of food waste in landfills and later decompose into environmentally friendly soil.

“Composting is an environmentally friendly way to provide nutrients and a much more profound soil complex for farmers,” Fazio said. “So it’s an alternative to using inorganic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides.”

Becca McGrath is a Silver Spring resident and brought her family to One Acre Farm for the tour. She hopes the tour will get her kids excited about trying new vegetables. However, her daughter, Eloise, and her son, Phineas, were quick to announce their hatred for vegetables.

“We just signed up for the CSA, [Community Supported Agriculture program] and really wanted the kids to get excited about seeing like where their food is coming from,” McGrath said. “We’re hoping to change by being just out here showing them where it’s all grown. Maybe they will be a little more excited and more willing to try more vegetables.”

One Acre Farm also offers a Community Supported Agriculture membership where members receive 6 to 12 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables each week.

For more information about One Acre Farm and the Community Supported Agriculture membership program, please visit the One Acre Farm website.

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