Maryland Agricultural Resource Council dissolved after donating $100,000 to Baltimore County Land Trust Alliance – Baltimore Sun

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After donating $100,000 to the Baltimore County Land Trust Alliance for its farmland preservation efforts, the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council’s board of directors voted unanimously to disband the nonprofit .

“I am pleased that we are able to make a significant donation to the Baltimore County Land Trust Alliance, a private group that supports the efforts of local land preservation groups,” said Tom Whedbee, Chairman of the Board of Directors of MARK, in a farewell. September 21 letter. “The combined work of these organizations has had a huge impact on the future of agriculture in the region and must be continued.”

The council’s decision to disband the nonprofit came in response to changes in recent years, including the Baltimore County Parks and Recreation Department’s decision to take over all operations of the council’s agricultural center and restrictions on center operations due to the pandemic. The council also described a tenuous relationship with current county parks department director Roslyn Johnson.

This made it impossible for MARC to run programs such as Farmer Stan’s Farm Tours, the Sprouts preschool program and its other educational programs, Whedbee said. Although the agricultural center programs helped financially, MARC could not control the program or the educators and found the situation unsatisfactory, Whedbee said.

“We had long discussions about how we could continue,” Whedbee said. “Ultimately, I think the other board members were discouraged and felt it was time to close shop. In our lifetime, we have lost many excellent people who grew weary of the poor MARC-county relationship. For the current board of directors, the last few years have been the final straw. »

MARC operations have come to a halt, Whedbee said. The organization began discussing the disbandment with the full board in April, and the formal vote took place Aug. 30, Whedbee said.

MARC will donate its remaining funds to programs supporting its mission to educate the public about agriculture and the importance of land preservation, according to a press release from the organization.

The county, however, does not believe its relationship with MARC was strained, said Erica Palmisano, press secretary for Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski.

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Palmisano said MARC contributions will support efforts to protect agricultural assets in Baltimore County.

“We thank MARC for its decades of leadership and advocacy on behalf of farming communities in Baltimore County,” Palmisano said in a statement. “The county has long shared the volunteer organization’s commitment to agricultural education, land preservation and the long-term success of our farmers, and appreciated the opportunity for robust dialogue about how best to achieve these common goals. We are confident that MARC’s generous contribution to the BCLTA will help strengthen their legacy to support efforts to ensure that we can protect Baltimore County’s rich and diverse agricultural assets for years to come.

MARC pioneered the concept of the Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park in Cockeysville, a working farm where area residents can experience farm life and learn about the impact of farming on daily life , according to the council’s website. As many as 10,000 schoolchildren have visited the farm each year, according to a press release from the organization.

“The magnificent Agricultural Center facility would not exist without the vision, hard work and perseverance of MARC’s founders,” said Whedbee.

MARC also facilitated the purchase of the property into county ownership and placed 129 acres of the 150-acre park site in an agricultural easement.

“We feel a little better knowing that MARC has accomplished a lot,” Whedbee said.

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