"The people I would like to benefit from this farm are my neighbors - this community."
- Lynn Koiner, Owner of Koiner Farm
KOINER FARM, PROTECTED
Koiner Farm is the first urban farm in Maryland to be permanently preserved under a conservation easement. In September 2019, in partnership with the Maryland Environmental Trust (MET), CKC established Maryland's first conservation easement for urban agriculture. This easement permanently protects Koiner Farm from development.
Spearheading this effort were Lynn Koiner, property owner and grantor of the easement, Kate Medina, CKC Founder and Executive Director, and Hannah Sholder, CKC Founder and Deputy Director. The progressive Board of Trustees for both CKC and MET also played pivotal roles in the establishment of this forward-thinking easement. Additionally, several urban farms in the city of Baltimore, who have been on the leading edge of Maryland’s urban farming movement, paved the way for Koiner Farm's protected status.
In 2017, Lynn Koiner was watching a documentary about Beatrix Potter and learned that Potter had donated 4,000 acres of farmland in Northern England back in 1943 to The National Trust. This got Lynn thinking about the future of her own farm:
“I'm an only child. I have no heirs - I only have my cats and this farm. I guess the people I would like to benefit from this farm are my neighbors - are this community. And you know, I've told the County Council, I said I believe in reincarnation and when I come back here in 500 years this farm better be here,” said Koiner.
Around the same time, Hannah Sholder, an independent consultant on affordable housing and land rights, was apprenticing at Koiner Farm under the guidance of late Mr. Charles Koiner. Charlie was a life-long Montgomery County farmer who founded Koiner Farm back in 1983 and managed to single-handedly preserve this acre of green space for nearly four decades, all the while paying residential property taxes on all of his tract. It is not an exaggeration to say that Charlie was receiving weekly offers in the millions from developers vying for his land, but he had no interest in selling. With Charlie and Lynn's blessing, Sholder jumped into action:
"After working with Charlie on his farm, I realized what an unusual and special place it was, and realized that it must be preserved - and that I could help the Koiners with this," said Sholder.
Sholder reached out to MET about working with CKC to co-hold an easement at Koiner Farm. MET, which is a unit of the State’s Department of Natural Resources and governed by a citizen Board of Trustees, serves as the statewide land trust for Maryland. The trust holds more than 1,100 easements statewide, many are co-held with local non-profit land trusts, such as CKC. The easement on Koiner Farm is consistent with MET’s recently revised policy for protecting land in urban settings.
“We are grateful for a local land trust partner like CKC Farming to help us protect this open space gem in the heart of downtown Silver Spring,” said John Turgeon, MET's Executive Director.
The easement permits the continued agricultural use of the property and protects access for the public. CKC hosts educational programs for local schools and community groups, while maintaining the farm with help from interns and volunteers. As co-holders of the easement, CKC will serve the role of local steward, responsible for regularly monitoring the property to ensure that the intended purposes of the easement are being met. The easement permits the continued agricultural and educational use of the property and protects access for the public in perpetuity.
It is hoped that the easement at Koiner Farm will serve as a model for protecting other urban farms inside the Capital Beltway of Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, and beyond.
SHOP KOINER FARM
Koiner Farm truly embodies what it means to eat local. The produce is sold at our farmstand along Easley Street. Half of all produce grown is donated to nearby nonprofit food distributors. Our customers, as well as our nonprofit food distribution partners, are located within a mile of the farm. Click here to become a Koiner Farm customer!
As a member of MoCo Made, Koiner Farm contributes to a hyper-local food economy by growing and selling produce right here in Silver Spring.
The sale of Koiner Farm produce helps Lynn Koiner maintain her Urban Ag Tax Credit. Check out this County Cable news clip for more on how the Urban Ag Tax Credit is supporting property owners, like Lynn, here in Montgomery County, MD.