Mentors and Mentees: It has been such a joy to learn about and work with our farm mentees. They exhibit a passion for growing food and a quiet resolve to make a difference in their communities. Through the Mentor Match Program, mentees learn about tricks of the trade from a farmer experienced in their line of work, while mentors get to see farming through new eyes. The matches often form great relationships where both parties learn something.
In general: I loved my time at SMADC working on the Maryland FarmLINK website. Originally, I viewed the job as a chance to match up those wishing to sell farmland with potential buyers of farmland and to help farmers stay up with the latest news in Maryland agriculture. It turned out to be more than that. With the support of many others, we were able to put information in the hands of our next generation of farmers and to help strengthen the agricultural economy in Maryland. My time with the mentors and mentees gave me renewed hope in the future of Maryland agriculture.
Challenges and Opportunities: There is still much to be done and much to gain. We need to find better ways to help beginning farmers to get access to land. We need to help farmers to “scale up” for profitability and we need to help them to reach new markets by helping to process, aggregate and distribute locally grown food and drink to stores, schools, hospitals and colleges. If successful, we will create more farm jobs, build the local economy and promote food security.
I know that my friends at SMADC will help to lead the way!
-Greg Bowen, former Maryland FarmLINK director