Howard County is planning to bring agricultural resources closer to the county’s farming community with the establishment of a new Office of Agriculture, to be located at West Friendship Park.
In December 2023, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced that the new Office would provide co-working space shared with the agriculture-facing functions of the Howard County Eceonomic Development Authority, the Department of Planning and Zoning, and the University of Maryland Extension.
Additionally, OoA will work with the County’s Department of Recreation and Parks to provide agriculturally-focused recreational programming and learning opportunities for residents at the park.
“Our fiscal 2025 budget proposal will include three new fulltime staff positions including an executive assistant to provide administrative and analytical support, as well as two project managers to oversee the Roving Radish program and agricultural policies and activities,” Ball said.
“This is an exciting opportunity to work with the farming community in a more direct way and to forward the agricultural initiatives identified in HoCo By Design, the county’s newly adopted General Plan,” said Lynda Eisenberg, director of DPZ, adding that the OoA represents the first major implementing action of the new General Plan.
“[We are] eager to work with the Office of Agriculture, the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension, and other agricultural organizations and to begin the public engagement process to identify and propose the West Friendship Park amenities and programs,” said Nicholas Mooneyhan, Director, Recreation and Parks.
According to Ball, proposed future programming may include overnight camping, agricultural learning, festivals, events, interactive agricultural and gardening and other nature-based and nontraditional sports programs.
The new Office of Agriculture will be located on property previously leased by the county to the Howard County Living History Farm Museum, operated by the Howard County Antique Farm Machinery Club. The county unexpectedly terminated that 25-year lease, which still had seven years remaining, in August 2023.