Farm-City Celebration aims to link the rural and urban

Folks from the city get taste of life on the farm

September 22, 2006|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,sun reporter

The Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum takes pride in its antique tractors, tools and household implements, but the most impressive part of the West Friendship site might be how much of it is new after a little more than a year of work.

On 40 acres of county park land, which was leased to the Howard County Antique Farm Machinery Club in July 2005, the group has cleared a pad for a new exhibit building, renovated a dairy barn, rebuilt a tenant house and harvested a couple of crops of corn and wheat with mostly volunteer labor.

"We're a happy group of people trying to do something real nice for the community," said the club's president, Jon W. Frank.

Members of the group will be even happier when visitors come out to explore artifacts of the county's rural past - and enjoy demonstrations, music, food, farm animals, hayrides and a flea market - at the club's Farm Heritage Days, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday.

The event is part of the third Farm-City Celebration that includes more than 40 activities from tomorrow through Oct. 8 intended to highlight agriculture in Howard County and build connections between farmers and city dwellers.

"There is a lot of agriculture past Route 32 ... that people don't know is there," said Linda Martinak, who sells vegetables and herbs at her Tranquility Farm in Marriottsville and is co-chair of the Farm-City Celebration. "This is where their food comes from."

The celebration started with no money and a coalition of volunteers in 2004, said Ginger S. Myers, an agricultural specialist for the Howard County Economic Development Authority. "It has grown to a 16-day celebration with a $25,000 budget supported by sponsorships and in-kind donations," she said.

Several popular events are returning this year, including farm-themed story times at local libraries, fall activities at Clark's Elioak Farm in Ellicott City and Triadelphia Lake View Farm in Glenelg, and the annual Howard County Iron-Bridge Hounds event Oct. 7 at Sharp's at Waterford Farm in Brookeville.

Other elements are new to the celebration. After putting its annual open house on hiatus for a few years, the University of Maryland's research farm in Clarksville will welcome visitors for tours and family activities Sept. 30.

Also, celebration participants who collect four stamps on a new "passport" in the celebration brochure can enter to win a gift basket of local goods.

Farmers' markets, walks sponsored by the Columbia Volksmarch Club and programs by the Howard County Master Gardeners also are part of the schedule.

Shyami Murphy will be at the Glenwood library at 7 p.m. Oct. 4 to talk about her paintings of Howard County farms, which she collected in a book last year.

She said 10 of the 30 farms she painted have been totally or partly sold in the past year. "There certainly have been a lot of changes," she said. "My viewpoint is more sentimental, it's not political."

Murphy also said she is offering to sell the collection of farm paintings as a whole to raise money for the Living Farm Heritage Museum.

"The museum has become a place that will actually bring people together of many different generations and backgrounds," she said.

The museum has been proving that theory all week, offering hands-on activities for school groups that demonstrate how people lived and farmed in previous generations.

The displays will continue during the weekend Farm Heritage Days, along with additional events to draw families to the Frederick Road site.

According to Frank, who is a Farm-City Celebration co-chair, the club is "right on track" in its efforts to create a museum with permanent displays and regular activities. When a main display building is completed in the next few months, he said, "A lot of the equipment and things that have been in storage throughout the year at other locations will be ... put in that structure and left as a static display."

He said: "It's really coming along, and we're just tickled to death."

Information on the Living Farm Heritage Museum and a listing of Farm-City Celebration events: Details on many Farm-City events are available at www.visit or by calling the Howard County Economic Development Authority at 410-313-6500. Information on Murphy and her lecture:

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