PLENTY SUMMER 2020 | Page 8

A Regenerative Renaissance at Linden Farm by ellen gordon We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it. - wendell berry, the long-legged house L iving through a time and much of its early history—a crop place drastically transformed by pandemic Originally part of a larger tract, it that aggressively depletes soil. and strife over racial injustice became the Lawrence Wright Farm can be the opportunity we need in the 1880s, by which time it had to reflect on how we can better transitioned to grain production know the world. If we are successful, perhaps we can emerge with a of the Dickerson railroad station in and raising livestock. The opening philosophy that is healing for the 1873 increased the economic feasibility of grain and beef production world—and healthier for us. While it’s true that there are many ways by insuring a fast system for transporting goods to market. The farm of farming that can produce food, the change that Sugarloaf Citizens’ changed hands a couple of times, Association (SCA) is bringing to and finally, during the Depression era, was purchased by Walter the farm that we steward will yield healthier food, nourish the soil, Matthews, who diversified production by expanding into dairying, begin mending the ecosystem and help to ameliorate climate change. delivering milk by truck as far as Linden Farm, SCA’s headquarters, has been farmed for at least family also converted part of the Washington, DC. The Matthews 200 years—and perhaps much farm into a private commons, longer. It was almost certainly known as Linden Park, complete used for growing tobacco for with a bandstand. Family members were active in the Poolesville Band and large groups often gathered in the park for picnics and musical celebrations. In 1980, Montgomery County bought the farm, with the intention of using a portion of it for composting sewage sludge. Because of SCA’s labors, that aspect of the farm’s history was short-lived, and by 1986, that same portion was instead converted to a less noxious leaf and grass composting facility. The association has continued oversight of that use and our efforts culminated in gaining stewardship in 1996 of the farm’s remaining 150 acres. Now dubbed Linden Farm, the fields have been leased to local farmers for conventional wheat, corn, and soybean rotation. Sugarloaf Citizens’ Association was founded in 1973 to promote and advocate for sound environmental stewardship in the rural north of Montgomery County, an area that wasn’t designated as an Agricultural Reserve until 1980. For nearly a half century, SCA volunteers have been a powerful force for preventing the destruction of farmland and open space, and thwarting increased water and air pollution. Now, as we plan for the next fifty years, we will be actively promoting a vibrant and healthy vision for Linden Farm where food is grown following regenerative principles, one where the greater community will be invited to learn how it’s done. Regenerative, generally speaking, refers to the use of a resource where it is increased and/or enhanced for future use, as compared to unsustainable or 8 plenty I Spring sowing 2020