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An Automobile Tour in the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve

This driving trail, when taken in its entirety, is about 40 miles long, and is designed to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. If one stops to enjoy the various sites described in the text, it could take three hours, or more.

Our trip begins at the intersection of Clarksburg Road and Frederick Road (Md. Rt. 355), just at the western edge of the rapidly growing town of Clarksburg. We will quickly leave the bustle behind, heading west on Frederick Road, towards Hyattstown. After traveling one mile, turn left onto Comus Road. After passing over Interstate 270, there will be an immediate change of pace noticed. Some crop fields are easily seen, most notably as you approach the intersection of Comus Road and Old Hundred Road. At that crossroad, reached after traveling about 3 ½ miles on Comus Road, you will note the well-known Comus Inn, a restaurant and landmark that has served the area for many years.

1. Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards
Continuing on Comus Road, while approaching the beautiful Sugarloaf Mountain, after about two miles you will come to a fairly recent addition to the Montgomery County agricultural scene, the 92 acre Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard (www.smvwinery.com). The first grape crop was harvested in the fall of 2005, with the first vintages offered in April, 2006.

Traveling past the winery, continue the short distance to the Sugarloaf Mountain square, bearing immediately to the left onto Sugarloaf Mountain Road for a short stay. It must be fairly noted the Sugarloaf Mountain is located in Frederick County, and for the briefest of moments, the travelers using this guide leave Montgomery County, quickly to reenter. Note that the road changes to Mt. Ephriam Road, while continuing to drive straight.

2. The Savage Farm
About two miles past the square, you will notice a very active farm, located on both sides of the road. This complex of homes and agricultural buildings is the Savage Farm. This farm has housed an actively milked dairy herd for at least the past 80 years. The most notable of the buildings is the dairy barn, on the left. Please remember that this farm is not open to the public, so please do not turn onto the farm property.

After passing the Savage Farm, continue less than one mile, and turn right onto Mouth of Monocacy Road. As you drive the short distance to the stop sign, notice the cropland on the right. Each year, the staples of Montgomery County grain farmers, corn and soy beans, with an occasional crop of winter wheat, are planted in fields such as these.

At the stop sign, our travelers have a small choice to make. Our road guide directs a left hand turn, but if you travel straight, across MD RT. 28 and travel about 1 ½ miles, you will come to the delightful Monocacy Aqueduct, on the C&O Canal. If you have not previously enjoyed this historic site, it is well worth the few minutes that it would take for a visit.

At the stop sign, turn left onto MD Rt. 28, drive under the railroad bridge, and through the small “up-county” town of Dickerson. Continue for slightly more than one mile, bearing right at the traffic light onto Martinsburg Road. Again, drive a short distance, to where the road curves to the left. At that point, note the entrance signs for the massive Mirant Electric Generating Plant, the Montgomery County Composting Facility, and the Montgomery County Resource Recycling Facility. Also, notice the well-maintained Linden Farm on the right side of the road. This farm is the home of the local Sugarloaf Citizen’s Association, and is used for a variety of public events.

At the stop sign, continue to the right on Martinsburg Road, traveling about four miles until reaching the stop sign at the intersection with White’s Ferry Road. Turn right, and continue 2 ½ miles to White’s Ferry.

3. J.T. Patton and Sons Turf Farm
Our route, however, continues to the left at the ferry turn-off, becoming the gravel River Road. This is the same “River Road” that continues all the way through Seneca, Potomac, and Bethesda, and into Washington, D.C. After traversing a short distance, on the right, you will see the huge flat fields of the J.T. Patton and Sons Turf Farm. This is certainly not a crop that was planted by the farmers of the rich Potomac River bottom land in previous centuries.

4. Potomac Riverside Farm
Continue along River Road, about three miles past the sod farm, bearing left onto Elmer School Road. Soon, you will note the National Institutes of Health Animal Center, on the right. In less than one mile, on the left, you will see the entrance to Potomac Riverside Farm. For many years, this was a dairy farm. The main milking barn is still a highlight of the buildings on the converted farm, and the former milk tank room has been renovated as the tack room. This 400 acre farm offers horse boarding, riding lessons and is the host farm for a number of horse shows and clinics each year.

5. Naughty Pine Plantation
About one mile past the horse farm, on the left, you will see the entrance to the Naughty Pine Plantation (www.naughty-pine.com), which provides an example of another current use of land previously farmed. Here, Christmas trees, and a wide variety of ornamental landscaping trees are grown.

After passing the entrance to the tree farm, continue to drive slightly less than one mile, to the stop sign at the intersection with White’s Ferry Road. Take a right turn, and drive another 1 ½ miles, turning left onto Waesche Road. Continue straight another 1 ½ mile, and turn right onto West Hunter Road.

6. Wish Upon a Ster Fresian Farm
After driving just a few tenths of a mile, you will see the very picturesque Wish Upon a Ster Fresian horse farm on the left. There are usually a number of horses, including mares with their foals, easily seen in the front pastures. This farm does have regularly scheduled “open houses”, at which time visitors are welcomed. Please visit the farm website (www.wishuponaster.com) to see a listing of open houses, and of the horses on the farm.

Continue up West Hunter Road, hopefully able to see the 35 cow Angus herd (black beef cows) of Bobinawarrah Farm, on the left ½ mile up from the horse farm. Also, please look for more fields under cultivation, seen at anytime during the drive, with various crops evident at different times of the growing year.

7. Woodstock Equestrian Park
At the stop sign, where West Hunter Road intersects with MD Rt. 28, our travelers have another choice. By turning left, and driving a few tenths of a mile you will come two large parks, one on either side of the road. Plans for the park include development as a public equestrian facility for Montgomery County. Further information on the parks, including trail maps, may be obtained by visiting (www.equestrianpark.org/home.htm).

8. Lewis Orchards
If we turn right onto Md. Rt. 28 at the West Hunter Road stop sign, and drive about two miles, we come to Lewis Orchards, on the left. These orchards and the well-known farm market have been in operation for well over 100 years, all that time owned by descendants of the Lewis family.

9. Kingsbury’s Orchard
About ½ mile down Peach Tree Road, the road seen just to the left of the Lewis building, on property that adjoins the Lewis Orchards, you will find another of the popular orchards/farm markets of the area.

Cherry Glen Goat Farm is another very unique type of farming operation, on a farm only a few miles from the Kingsbury entrance. Because the farm is not open to the public, and cannot be easily seen from the road, no driving directions are included. The farm has bred and raised high quality milking goats for a number of years, goats to be shown in breed shows, and eventually sold throughout the country to other goat farmers.

After leaving Kingsbury’s Orchards, head return back up (South) on Peachtree Road to the intersection with Rt. 28. Turn left and drive the short distance to the crest of a hill. Before you lies Spring Valley, formerly the home of the nationally known Spring Valley Hereford Farm. The farm headquarters were located in the large complex of buildings down the hill on the left, but the farm occupied hundreds of acres, on both sides of the road.

Continue about 3 ½ miles, turning left onto White Grounds Road. Please stop beside the road for a moment, to decide if you wish to visit Homestead Farm, another of the delightful fruit and vegetable farms that abound in the area. The farm is located about one mile down Sugarland Road, on the right. Sugarland Road is close to where you are now, but you would turn right off of MD. Rt. 28, instead of the left you have just taken. The farm is open in-season, so check the website for open hours at  (http://www.homestead-farm.net/) before visiting.

11. Susanna Farm
Our Farm Trail will continue to the left on White Grounds Road. After driving down White Grounds for just over a mile, on the left, you will see the entrance to Susanna Farm, a farm that raises and sells nursery stock, including “unusual conifers and dwarf Japanese Maples”, among many other types of shrubbery and trees. This farm does welcome visitors during scheduled hours of business.

Continue down White Grounds Road. After crossing the small Bucklodge Branch bridge, take an immediate right onto Schaffer Road, and drive about 1 ½ miles to the traffic circle (you sure did not see any other traffic circles on your nearly completed trek!). Drive three quarters of the way around, and enter the South Germantown Recreational Park, where our final destination is located.

12. The Dairy Mooseum
It seems rather fitting that our rural driving trail end here, at the edge of bustling Germantown, at an old dairy barn that has been converted into a museum for the nearly-gone dairy industry of Montgomery County. Around it are not pastures, hay fields or corn cribs, but the huge Soccerplex, the beautiful new indoor swim center, and the Discovery SportsCenter, the home of the Washington Freedom woman’s professional soccer team.

We hope that you have enjoyed this driving tour, designed to showcase the recent evolution of farming in Montgomery County. The cattle population may be dwindling, and the number of working farms decreasing, but agriculture changes are occurring that are very unique. Now wine grapes are growing, sod is being harvested, and ornamental shrubs and trees are being grown in record numbers. The horse industry is alive and well, maybe bigger now than ever before. The grain industry, utilizing the latest production techniques, yields substantial harvests. The very foundation of this huge industry, the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve, on which you have traveled today, is a treasure for all to cherish, and to protect.

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