We live in a utopic place called “The Agricultural Reserve” within Montgomery County, Maryland. It has been set aside by the wise elders of the area to be the one part of Montgomery County that cannot be impacted by suburban sprawl and all that entails.
There are many different kinds of farms here on the reserve. I happen to live on a street that has several orchards, one of which is named Lewis Orchard.
Everything about this orchard is beautiful. This is Route 28, the road that takes you to Lewis’ Orchard. I love their rock wall.
It affords a sweet view of all the fruit trees, the ponds, and the surrounding woodland.
And in the spring to drive by, you get a fantastic view of many different hues of pink peach blossoms.
Peach Tree Road, where I live, is the cross street for this orchard, and when you turn down my road, you are greeted by hundreds upon hundreds of beautiful peach blossoms. It’s breathtaking.
But make no mistake…this is a WORKING orchard.
It’s not just for aesthetics, man! Many local people depend on working the orchard seasonally. And it’s a wonderful place for neighbors to meet and greet each other. It’s become a true landmark.
If you illegally park on their private property, which I hope to heavens you never do, you would see that there is a serious order and method to their stone-fruit madness. Immaculately kept rows of trees.
Well pruned. Perfectly pruned, really. By experienced, capable hands.
And OHhhhhh the scent….
They grow other produce as well. Each season the orchard stand sells their raspberries, peppers, broccoli, maters, and all kinds of apples, in addition to their peaches.
And they are the kindest neighbors. Linda and Robert….two of the hardest working people I know. Linda and My Captain grew up together!
Linda and Robert bought the land from Robert’s grandma’s estate in 2001 and put it into preservation…though they had to keep 5 acres of it as a potential building lot for insurance in case they had three bad years for the farm. They never want to lose the land since part of it has been in their family’s hands since 1888!
I took Linda some RumBalls (my rumballs are famous, you know!) last year, and she offered me a box of apples! The woman doesn’t know how to receive because she’s used to giving….people are constantly hitting them up for something!
Bicyclists, motorcyclists, and people who like to drive in the country to get away from the rat-race, find serenity here. Find a slower, cleaner pace here. Find beauty here. They like to peddle past the orchard and the horse farms and the wheat and corn fields. It reminds them of something they miss in urban life. And its air that is sweeter than they could possibly have back where asphalt reigns.
Imagine if the County had not reserved this land from development. This could be a subdivision! This could be a strip mall! Had it not been for the wisdom of the planning commission, this beautiful farmland might be paved…. in the interest of growth and progress, of course.
And, sadly, there is a developer who is trying to put over 30 houses on Peach Tree Road! The owner won’t even show his face or admit his name..last I heard all we could find out was that the landowner, a Saudi Arabian Prince, had moved the land into the hands of an offshore company in the Netherland Antilles. And this foreigner is trying to develop this part of Montgomery County’s beautiful Reserve…our county’s last bastion of true rural heritage.
Some local groups have tried to stop it. But it looks like the developers have so much say and pull within the County’s planning board, that the foreigners will win and ruin this beautiful area.
I fear for the Lewises. I fear for my home. I fear for the place my kids are growing up.
I’m not stupid… I know change is inevitable. But it’s not uncontrollable. All we can do is hope that the current Planning Board has the wisdom their predecessors did when they built the Reserve.
In the meantime, I’m going to eat all the peaches I can!