Koiner Farm, at the corner of Easley & Grove Streets in Downtown Silver Spring, is an Urban Farm hidden in plain sight. (David Lay/Source of the Spring)
For 30-plus years, Charlie Koiner and his daughter, Lynn, have grown over 20 types of produce in a one-acre plot behind the house that the Koiner family has owned since the 1930s.
Called ‘the only working farm in Downtown Silver Spring’ on its Facebook page, it’s an urban farm hidden in plain sight at 737 Easley Street, just blocks from the Silver Spring Library. They offer tours of the gardens, especially for children. Groups are also welcome.
In addition to having a weekly stand in front of the Regal Majestic Theater at the Downtown Silver Spring Farmers Market on Saturdays, they also make an annual appearance at the Montgomery County Fair, winning several awards for their produce, fruit wagon, flower arrangements and baked goods.
They were the subject of the 2010 documentary ‘Corner Plot’ from Docs In Progress alums Ian Cook and Andre Dahlman, which was shown at the 2010 AFI/Discovery Silverdocs festival (now AFIDOCS). Over 100 films were submitted, but ‘Corner Plot’ was the only film to feature Silver Spring.
In her interview in ‘Corner Plot’, Lynn said of the farm: “We’re very lucky to have this much land. I know as soon as he (Charlie) bought the land, real estate agents were calling and asking what he was going to do with the property. They couldn’t believe he bought all that land just to farm. And that’s exactly what he did.”
The farm was brought to the limelight again this past March, when Montgomery County Council passed a bill that would grant a tax credit to certain properties that qualify as urban farms.
The new law, passed by Council in a 8-0 vote, was driven by what Councilmember Tom Hucker (D-5th District) saw as the unfair taxation of the Koiner Farm.
“They’ve been, in my view, over-taxed as long as they’ve been farming,” Hucker said. “They are not taxed as a farm, which they are. They’re taxed as a single-family home. They’re not eligible for the agricultural tax credit because of an arbitrary rule of state law that says farms have to be over five acres.”
Lately, deer have been cleaning out the garden, and Charlie & Lynn have been having a hard time keeping up with the garden. They are seeking volunteers to help weed and water:
Do you know of any gems in Silver Spring? Know of something great hiding in plain sight? Let us know in the comments.