May-June 2017 | Featured Article

Made in MoCo: Where to Find the Freshest Food Locally

Our guide to Montgomery County farms, breweries, wineries and more

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The Urban Farmers

Photo courtesy Up Top Acres

There’s something sprouting around the metallic HVAC units on the roof of the downtown Bethesda building that houses Equinox gym. It’s kale, spinach and chard, grown by Up Top Acres, a rooftop farm company founded in 2014 by three graduates of the District’s Woodrow Wilson High School. Their Bethesda locale—a project started in collaboration with Bethesda Green, the local environmental incubator, and Federal Realty Investment Trust, the developer that owns the building—is now in its second full growing season. Last year, the farm harvested radishes, salad greens, scallions, tomatoes and more, produce that was sold to Jaleo restaurant across the street. The rooftop planting space is now three times the size of the original plot, and this summer a large portion of it will be taken up by hot peppers—jalapeños, Scotch bonnets, habaneros and Thai chilies. Coming soon: Up Top Acres hot sauce.  

Up Top Acres’ Bethesda produce will be available in Jaleo dishes again this year, and through its CSA. At press time the company was finalizing plans for sales at farmers markets. Up Top also runs farms atop two buildings in the District’s Navy Yard area, and grows microgreens and herbs on top of Oyamel, a restaurant in Penn Quarter.

The Peach Farmer

Photo courtesy Kingsbury’s Orchard

Glenglo, Victoria and Sugar Giant. Those are just a few of Gene Kingsbury’s favorite peach varieties. And Candy Crisp is the apple of his eye. 
On 55 acres in Dickerson, Kingsbury’s Orchard features 6,000 fruit trees, growing about 50 varieties of peaches (including the exclusive Kingsbury Pride), plus 20 types of apples, along with Asian pears, cherries, apricots, nectarines and plums. 

Five years ago, after retiring from the Federal Aviation Administration, Kingsbury came back to work full time on the farm, which was started by his great-great-grandparents in 1907. It was Kingsbury’s great-grandfather who first started growing peaches during the Depression, an uncommon crop at the time in this area.

The century-old dairy barn, now used for storage, needs a paint job and a roof replacement, but it adds historic grit to the vista of fruit trees marching up a gentle hill. Kingsbury remembers milking cows in the adjacent milking parlor as a kid, when his parents managed a Holstein herd along with the orchard. Nowadays, the only on-farm animals are pets—10 head of cattle, 
a dog and a donkey named Jack. 
Kingsbury’s Orchard runs an on-site farm market that opens June 10.

19415 Peach Tree Road, Dickerson | 301-972-8755 |  

The Family Farmers

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The unexpected March snowfall didn’t stop the Savages (from left: Bruce, Sandra, Colin, Cory and Cody) from their work on the farm. Photo by Erick Gibson

The roosters are cock-a-doodling in the Savage family’s backyard, as hens, a few turkeys and a duck amble about. “They all get along fine,” Sandra Savage says of the lively poultry pack. 

Sandra and Bruce Savage and their three sons also get along just fine, raising hogs, broilers and 170 head of cattle on several plots in the county, plus 1,000 acres of commodity crops such as hay, corn and soybeans.

Bruce Savage, a fourth generation Montgomery County farmer, ran a dairy operation on his grandmother’s farm with his brother Kevin until 2013, when he decided to branch out into livestock. And the Savage’s sons—Cody, 23, Cory, 21, and Colin, 15—are an integral part of the operation, helping with the feeding, fieldwork and hay delivery. The family of five lives together in a house next to their farm market shop and produces most of the food they consume. Farming is “a seven-day-a-week job,” Bruce Savage says. “The cows don’t take a day off.”

R.B. Savage & Sons’ farm market store sells the family’s beef, pork and chicken, as well as bacon and country sausage, the latter made from an old recipe passed down from Sandra’s family. It also stocks eggs from their hens, homegrown vegetables and other products. The family sells its meats at three county farmers markets: Shady Grove, Potomac Village and the Common Ground Market in Beallsville. 

23035 Mt. Ephraim Road, Dickerson | 301-370-7111 or 301-370-6442