Frederick County On-Farm Compost Amendment

A zoning amendment allowing acceptance of food scraps on permitted farms in the agriculture zone, a change proposed to existing zoning code to solve obstacles to expansion of composting in Frederick County, was recently supported by Frederick County’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC).
The proposed zoning amendment, which has been discussed for months by the Frederick County Planning and Zoning Dept., must still be introduced as County Council legislation and follow the process for zoning amendments before it can be adopted.
Currently, food scrap composting can take place on agricultural land under 5,000 square feet. The proposed amendment creates two levels: permitted acceptance of food scrap with no commercial sales in the ag zone between 5,000 square feet and five acres; or acceptance by Special Use Permit in the agriculture zone above 5 acres but no more than 10 acres, with commercial sales allowed.
Other proposed conditions include:
*no composting in the floodplain and a required setback of 25 feet from floodplain and 50 feet from streambanks
*must be 150 feet from property lines
*must have frontage to a 20-foot-wide paved road and at the discretion of the county, a commercial/industrial entrance
*a vehicle circulation plan and turning radius plan
*A log book of received material that can be inspected at any time by the Zoning Administrator
*must be incorporated into composting within 24 hours and avoid nuisance, dust and detectable noise from other properties
Facilities would still be expected to meet all state permitting regulations for Tier 2 composting.


A Spoonful of Soil (Regenerative Agriculture)

Ron Holter and Lisa Orr believe a teaspoon of soil can make a big difference.
That is, when it is loaded with the right microbes: it can be the difference between wallet-breaking grain purchases and feeding animals from the grass growing in rich soil.

 Lisa Orr and Ron Holter, speakers Feb. 21 at Green Drinks
Lisa told the audience at the February Frederick Green Drinks that microbes are in the 10K range  in a teaspoon of healthy soil … and her presentation partner, Middletown farmer Ron Holter, said seeing the sun hit bare soil is the opposite of a hospitable environment for these microbes. “We’ve been taught that monoculture is the thing, and its not,” said Holter, whose farm follows regenerative practices rapidly gaining recognition worldwide.
The holistic grazing method is promoted internationally by Rhodesian farmer Allan Savory, at a Colorado facility. There, they train and demonstrate grazing practices that match the needs of the soil and animals by moving the animals in “mobs”  throughout the land. The animals’ trampling activities provide the aeration, nutrients and organic matter needed in the soil—which also traps carbon that otherwise would become greenhouse gas.
In Savory’s home country of Africa, where the soil is extremely brittle and arid, “cattle mobs” will sometimes not graze the same area for a year; Holter said his Middletown cows are rotated in tight groups every 28-45 days. His farm changed methods 21 years ago, and he has saved large amounts of money on grain (the animals are now grass-fed); their land is drought-resistant; between the diversity that keeps it in check and the hungry cows that consume all the Johnsongrass, this bane of conventional farms is under control. Veterinary bills are lower because his livestock do not spend all their time in barns on hard surfaces; and the workload is lighter for his farm family.
Regenerative agriculture is growing in adoption in the national agricultural world as its benefits become evident. For more information about regenerative methods, which include nitrogen-fixing cover crops; no-till farming; biochar and chemical free farming, and their ability to restore soil carbon, go to
Other resources include: