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Author: Priscilla Wentworth

What do Southern Maryland Meats, Bourbon, and Alpacas all have in common?  

What do Southern Maryland Meats, Bourbon, and Alpacas all have in common?  

July 31st! SMADC is hosting an evening for the public to celebrate Maryland’s farms and food at the Buy Local Challenge 10th Anniversary Celebration Event – Southern Maryland Style!

The event is planned for July 31st in Brandywine, Md, and will feature tastings of local farm products , a locally sourced Southern Maryland style buffet dinner, live music, lawn games, clydesdales, and the opportunity to purchase from Maryland farmers, producers, artisans, and crafters.

Southern Maryland farms will be featured, and include sampling of fruits, vegetables, meats, wine, distilled spirits, ice cream, baked goods, and more.

Vendors such as Dicot Farm of Charles County will sample fresh produce from their farm, while you can taste wine and wine infused cupcakes from Romano Vineyard and Winery and others in Prince George’s county, and purchase local meats from R & H Farms in St. Mary’s County. Spider Hall farm will also join us from Calvert county with their famous ‘Miss Moo’s’ ice cream!

This is a ticketed event – tickets must be purchased in advance, so don’t delay!

  • $25 for 21 and over (those able to sample wines & spirits at the event. ID will be checked at the door as necessary and the appropriate armband issued)
  • $20 for youth under 20 and adults not sampling wine/spirits/beer
  • Kids 5 and under free
  • Locally Sourced Southern Maryland Style Buffet Dinner
  • Vendor Sampling Pass (Sample all vendors, then drop your completed pass into the raffle box for a chance to win local goodies!)
  • Commemorative Buy Local Insulated Tote Bag – to keep your tasty farm food purchases cool between farm and fridge.

A huge thank you to our event sponsors: Grow & Fortify, MARBIDCO, Maryland’s Best, Maryland Farm Bureau, the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundaiton, R&D Cross, and the Rural Maryland Council. Tickets are still available while supplies lasts. Purchase tickets here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SMADC Appoints New Chairman of the Board

SMADC Appoints New Chairman of the Board

Since 2001, SMADC has operated at the behest of a team of board members comprised of representatives from different agriculture sectors who provide updates, information and recommendations to the board to assist the Southern Maryland agriculture industry. This April, SMADC appointed a new Chairman, Yates Clagett, to oversee the 19 member board– and in May, Yates officially kicked off the board meeting.

Photo credit: Kim Rush-Lynch
Chair, Yates Clagett and Director, Shelby Watson-Hampton at a recent board meeting. Photo credit: board member, Kim Rush-Lynch.

As a former tobacco producer who transitioned to cattle, Yates understands the history of SMADC, where it has come from and where it is headed. Yates was born and raised on a 300 acre farm, and his family still manages over 500 acres of farmland. He transitioned to livestock production 2006, and began selling grass fed and finished beef to retail customers. In addition to his new role at SMADC, Yates works for the Prince George’s Soil Conservation District and manages all agricultural programs, including the Land Preservation Programs. He is the county’s Farm Bureau President, and has served on numerous state and local agricultural boards. He is a Volunteer Fire Fighter and Assistant Varsity Lacrosse Coach at The Calverton School.

“As a long-time SMADC board member, and a Southern Maryland farmer, I look forward to serving as Chairman of the board,” said Yates. “After 16 years, SMADC has refocused and redefined our mission to evolve with the Southern Maryland agricultural economy as it continues to grow. I’m excited to lead the board and to take on new initiatives to help farmers continue to transition and increase profitability.”

Previous Chairmen include, Earl “Buddy” Hance, former Secretary of Agriculture; Charles Rice, Charles County Economic Development; and Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton.

Current members represent various industries, including: livestock, fruits and vegetables, equine, aquaculture, field crops, horticulture, agriculture businesses and services, elected officials, agritourism, land preservation, the Maryland Farm Bureau, agricultural marketing (AMPS), and Extension. Learn more about the SMADC board here.

 

SMADC debuts new logo!

SMADC debuts new logo!

There’s been a flurry of exciting updates at SMADC over the past month, including our latest announcement: the unveiling of a new logo!

The new logo brings together the origins of SMADC’s historic foundation in one colorful image. Showcasing the stewardship of our land and waterways– the iconic tobacco barn, the Chesapeake Bay, row crops, and that hot Maryland sun– all point to SMADC’s bright, new horizon!

The larger re-branding and marketing initiative we are currently undertaking, aims to increase awareness for our programs, making SMADC a household name for farmers, agribusiness and consumers. An important part of this
effort will be to update our website homepage to be more user-friendly; a one-stop-shop for farmers and consumers to find the resources they need.

And if you haven’t already noticed, we are increasing our marketing, promotions and outreach, and ramping up our social media presence. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with all things food and farming in Southern Maryland. Keep an eye out later this month too for our new monthly Newsletter: Farm Focus.

 

Lively Meet & Greet Open House

Lively Meet & Greet Open House

Earlier this month, Shelby Watson-Hampton joined SMADC as the new Director. Shelby and the SMADC Staff were excited to kick things off by hosting an event to welcome the Southern Maryland community into our offices for networking with a “Meet and Greet” Open House. Southern Maryland farmers, producers, agricultural organizations, elected officials and others with a vested interest in local agriculture were invited to attend.

Guests from Soil Conservation & Farm Bureau, and even a special visit from Mrs. Moo, Calvert County’s favorite Ag educator!

Over the course of the two days, we had over 50 attendees representing all five counties and all sectors of agriculture.

The event was an opportunity to talk with staff, pick up brochures and guides, and offer suggestions and ideas to SMADC. As attendees mingled, we had light food and refreshments featuring farm products from around Southern Maryland. Suggestions, ideas, and comments were shared. Perhaps most encouraging though, was the strong sense in the room of the local farming community coming together. Laughter was heard, and stories and hugs were shared. It was great to see so many people still holding a strong, vested interest in local agriculture.

Our youngest farmers during the open house!

And, we can’t forget to feature our  youngest young farmers in attendance, pictured on the left. It was wonderful to meet the next generation of future farmers.

A big thank you to all the farmers, producers, and agricultural representatives who visited with us during our two-day “Meet and Greet” Open House. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting and visiting with you and we were very pleased to have representation from all five Southern Maryland counties. Because it was so successful, we plan to host a SMADC Open House every year.

If you could not make the open house you can still pose suggestions, comments, and ideas for SMADC here.  We have some exciting new announcements coming soon – so stay tuned and make sure you subscribe to receive news and announcements!

 

 

 

SMADC Announces New Director

SMADC Announces New Director

Shelby Watson Hampton-photocredit-EdwinRemsberg
Photo credit Edwin Remsberg

The Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) is pleased to announce new Director, Shelby Watson-Hampton. Shelby is a Southern Maryland farmer, an Agricultural Marketing Specialist, and an active member of the Maryland farming community. In her previous position at the Maryland Department of Agriculture, she worked in the Marketing Department promoting and marketing Maryland products, farmers, and farmers markets, as well as running the Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

Shelby is an active member of many agricultural associations and committees. She also farms on her family farm in Brandywine, Maryland, where they grow wine grapes and host private events in their barn venue. Shelby is a 2007 graduate of the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and a 2015 Graduate Fellow of the LEAD Maryland Class VIII.

When asked about her new position, she replied, “I am so honored, grateful, and excited to have this opportunity to work for the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission. As Director, my mission will be to work towards fostering a truly cohesive farming community in Southern Maryland, which brings out the best in all farmers and all production types. We need every farm we have; large, small, conventional, organic, traditional, niche, agritourism and value-added. It takes all agricultural types to have a diverse and successful farming economy.”

“As an individual with family farms in both Prince George’s and Charles Counties, ties to the Southern Maryland farming community across all five counties, and an affinity for promoting an inclusive and cooperative atmosphere, I will strive to continue and to expand the tradition of a strong and prosperous farming community in Southern Maryland.”

Shelby joins SMADC with a wealth of experience and commitment to the farming community in Southern Maryland. The Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland (TCCSMD) board, and the SMADC board and staff welcome Shelby as the newest manager of our Economic Development team. Shelby will start in her new position on March 6, 2017.

Happy New Year! Annual Report Published

Happy New Year! Annual Report Published

Happy New Year! January marks a good time to look back and reflect and look forward to the future. SMADC recently published its FY’16 End of Year Report (linked below).

Some FY’16 highlights include:

  • Maryland FarmLINK launched a new website (FarmLINK 2.0) with increased features for users
  • 581 new members signed-up for the FarmLINK website/Weekly Roundup; 55 Maryland FarmLINK “Weekly Roundup” newsletters were sent to 1,900 subscribers
  • 8 new farmer profiles launched Tomorrow’s Harvest website
  • The Southern Maryland Meat Processing Facility is underway and held public forums, focus group discussions, and invited public input
  • 47 producers participate in Southern Maryland Meats; and 68,760 pounds of frozen meat was transported at an estimated retail value of $395,920. Seven retail stores who host the Southern Maryland Meats freezer display cases reported sales of $201,413 (an increase of 10% from FY’15)
  • Launched a new website for the horse industry in Southern Maryland, “Hoofbeats Through History: The Southern Maryland Historic Horse Trail”, as one of a network of heritage ‘driving’ trails in development across the state; including 17 documented/equine-related destinations in So. MD
  • Provided marketing and support for Maryland’s Buy Local Challenge; the 2016 Farmers’ Market Guide listing of 30 So. MD Markets and 10 additional markets in MD, Metro DC and VA hosting Southern MD farm vendors; and the 2016 Farms for the Holiday’s Guide
  • Offered an Equipment Grant for local agencies to apply. Five new pieces for approved for funding.  37 pieces of equipment have been purchased and are available for farmers to rent across the region
  • SMADC funds for land preservation increased in FY’16 for a total of 16,257 cumulative acres over 14 years of funding. Combined with county and state funds, land preservation acreage in Southern Maryland amounts to 36,325 acres (320 farms) cumulatively
  • Provided administrative support to farmers markets in applying for grants for EBT/SNAP incentive funds

The full report is uploaded to the SMADC website on the “About SMADC” page Year End Reports linked here for your convenience: http://www.smadc.com/aboutsmadc/Report2016.pdf

We are halfway through FY’17, which has been a transitional time for the organization. During the first part of FY’17, many meetings, public forums, and a retreat with the board were held in order to determine the future. We thank the many who showed up to those meetings to provide input, or who wrote in or phoned with expressions for moving forward. Staff and board members have been busy working to address every single comment. Thank you for understanding the difficulties that are inherent in restructuring while continuing to operate at nearly full capacity. Onward and upward!

Note: We have the comment section of the blog turned off due to spam, but we welcome comments and questions to blog posts. Please connect with us anytime at info@marylandfarmlink.com or at 301-274-1922 x.1. 

 

Beginning Farmers in Maryland Share Their Stories

Beginning Farmers in Maryland Share Their Stories

SMADC recently completed a series of six stories showcasing beginning farmers in the Mentor Match program. The project highlights the rich diversity of Maryland agriculture that is evolving to replace the centuries-old, single-crop (tobacco) model, as well as the varied backgrounds of those embarking on new farm careers today. Highlighted farms range from a flower farm in inner-city Baltimore to a produce farm on the banks of the Patuxent River. Participants are varied as well. Some are young entrepreneurs building a first business. John laquintaOthers turned to farming mid-career.

Tomorrow’s Harvest is a project by SMADC designed showcasing the varied faces of new farmers in
Maryland and the value of mentorship in agriculture. Participants were drawn from Maryland FarmLINK’s Mentor Match program, whwalker marsh tha flower factoryich pairs new farmers, including farmers branching into new types of farming, with an experienced farmer with relevant expertise.

Programs like the Mentor Match are in place to keep farming alive in our region. It’s encouraging to see people choose farming as a career, not just young people, but those of all ages. The people in these stories are the future of farming, and they are all creative and smart, and really interesting to listen to.

Funding for the Tomorrow’s harvest project was made possible by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA, Grant #2012-49400-19552), as a state-wide grant issued to SMADC and partners. In 2017 SMADC will offer the Mentor Match program to beginning farmers in the 5 counties of Southern Maryland only. If you are interested in becoming joining the program, see the details in the link below.

We want to give you a sneak peak here on the blog before it gets released next week…

tomorrowsharvest

Read the stories HERE!

Note: We have the comment section of the blog turned off due to spam, but we welcome comments and questions to blog posts. Please connect with us anytime at info@marylandfarmlink.com or at 301-274-1922 x.1. 

Maryland’s Newest Trail Is Just a Hoofbeat Away!

Maryland’s Newest Trail Is Just a Hoofbeat Away!

The region’s newest heritage trail, “Hoofbeats Through History: The Southern Maryland Historic Horse Trail,” offers an online network of destinations highlighting the important role of horses in the area’s culture and heritage.

Since the first settlers set foot here in the early 1600s, horses have been a part of Southern Maryland. The website encompasses sites where the cavalry camped during the Civil War, stops along an early stage coach route, plus plantations and manor houses dating back to Colonial days, when horses pulled carriages and plowed fields.

horsetrail
Click photo to view the interactive map.

Several sites exemplify Southern Maryland’s role in the Thoroughbred racing industry, and others showcase Maryland’s state sport (jousting) and the long tradition of the fox chase. At several destinations, visitors can examine centuries-old equine-related artifacts unearthed in the area. Photos, anecdotes and other historic information collected for this regional trail will become part of a state-wide archive of equine history.

The trail website includes descriptions, stories, photos, hours and directions for the key sites, and online galleries of documents and articles. The website lists the area’s Horse Discovery Centers, carefully selected, licensed stables where visitors can learn about horses in a friendly and knowledgeable environment. Horseback riding trails, active working horse farms and equine-related events are also listed. SMADC played a key role in creating the Southern Maryland trail, with support from the Maryland Horse Industry Board (MHIB). The Southern Maryland Trail is the second regional driving trail to be completed as part of MHIB’s larger Maryland Historic Horse Trail, a network of heritage trails across the state.

“We expect this newest Historic Horse Trail will draw visitors from across the state and beyond,” said Ross Peddicord, executive director of the MHIB, a program of the Maryland Department of Agriculture. “Maryland has this great horse history, going way back to the 1600s, and it was all just slipping away, disappearing. The Historic Horse Trail is an attempt to document that history and make it easy for visitors to access it and enjoy it, and maybe introduce them to the active horse culture we have today.”

marylandhorsehistory3

Note: We have the comment section of the blog turned off due to spam, but we welcome comments and questions to blog posts. Please connect with us anytime at info@marylandfarmlink.com or at 301-274-1922 x.1. 

Growing Quality Pastures to Raise Meats- On Farm ‘Grazing’ Workshop

Growing Quality Pastures to Raise Meats- On Farm ‘Grazing’ Workshop

The Maryland Grazers Network and Chesapeake Bay Foundation in partnership with the University of Maryland Extension and the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) held a workshop and pasture walk last week with a focus on producing and managing high quality pastures for cows, sheep and goats, to ensure excellent meat products and enhanced soil conservation.

grazers workshop
Michael Heller demonstrates his rotational grazing system to a group of livestock farmers.

Around 35 livestock farmers from around the region showed up at Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro on a warm evening to learn from experts about grazing livestock, particularly on summer forage. The workshop lasted for close to 6 hours and included ag researchers, ag marketing professionals, and experienced farmers who have mastered this system to share their best practices. Michael Heller, livestock farm manager at Clagett farm, hosted the group (and with charm and whit!) delivered  a tour, light meal (grass-fed burgers and ice cream of course), and introduced the knowledgeable folks he turned to when deciding to raise livestock 100% grass-fed livestock many years ago.  Farmers noted that had spoken with or knew of Mike Heller, but many said it was helpful to go to Mike’s farm and see in-person how he was implementing his systems for the first time.

Speakers represented USDA, University of Maryland Extension, Soil Conservation, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, NRCS, and SMADC’s Southern Maryland Meats. Programs like the Maryland Grazers Network and Maryland FarmLINK filled in throughout the night with opportunities for farmers. Most impressive, was that the speakers had first-hand experience in raising grass-fed meats, referencing their own proven techniques while also speaking to the research.

Click photo to watch video
Click photo to watch rainfall soil demo video.

It was great to see a workshop focused on helping a group of farmers from all over the spectrum- from experienced grass-fed farmers there to learn something new about summer forage annuals, to a slew of young farmers ready to try grass-fed livestock for the first time, to farmers who were ready to transition or were thinking about changes to their production system.

The workshop covered ratios of types of pasture from perennial pasture, mixed summer annuals, down to individual species such as cow peas, sunn hemp, millet, sudex, tillage radish, etc. Just like in vegetable production, soil health is imperative to grass-fed livestock systems. Yates Claggett, Soil Conservation, showed different crops and grasses affect on soil health based on a rainfall simulator demonstration.

Another demonstration showcased on how synthetic fertilizers are absorbed into the soils and plants in pastures and how bare soils and shallow root systems intensify run-off. Steve Darcey, the District Manager for Prince Georges Soil Conservation District, spoke of the importance of how our farming practices can benefit or harm our soils.  Steve, Maryland’s first Soil Health Champion with NACD, said that a 1% increase in soil organic matter allowed the soil to hold an additional inch of rain which has tremendous benefits for pastures and crops.  Lastly, the workshop covered best practices to marketing, labeling and selling meats (click here to view PDF Slides).

If you’re interested in more information, check out the The Grazers Network, Southern Maryland Meats, and  the Amazing Grazing Directory. Would you be interested in a poultry workshop?  Let us know at info@marylandfarmlink.com.

Setting the stage for a flourishing future by Christine Bergmark

Setting the stage for a flourishing future by Christine Bergmark

By: Christine Bergmark, Executive Director, Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission

Looking back over 15 years of the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission, I am filled with pride. We, the farmers, consumers, SMADCvisionaries, staff and volunteers, have accomplished so much. Sixteen years ago, few could have envisioned Southern Maryland agriculture without tobacco. But the new crops, new markets, farm innovations, and consumer demand that followed gave hope with each fresh planting season that agriculture was and would continue to be vibrant in Southern Maryland.

New industries have flourished. Who could have imagined that our wineries would take hold?  That the Buy Local Challenge we created would have been picked up in so many other states? Who in 1999 could have seen that countless consumers would be willing to pay a little more for great locally produced meats? And that agritourism would teach a new generation of children about food and farms?

BLCWe at SMADC held fast to the vision, but never could we have imagined that the new markets would be so welcoming. With a staff of 4, sometimes 5, and volunteer commissioners numbering 17, we were nimble, responsive, forward-thinking and in some ways, a laboratory for innovation for the state.

Now, as SMADC enters a new era, I encourage you all, one last time, to realize how the choices that we make every day –as legislators, county officials, tax payers and consumers- impact the future of our farms. I urge you to continue the good work that has helped evolve our farms and agriculture towards a great future.

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