When the Farmer Mini-Grant program was first being developed, the SMADC Staff and Board wanted to ensure that this opportunity would be beneficial for both beginning and existing farmers looking to expand or diversify their operations. Youth as young as 16 years old who are in or have been in FFA, 4-H, agricultural related programs or classes, or have a farming background are encouraged to apply.
Jacob Bowen, 16, of Sunderland, did so and was approved for a grant to purchase a livestock scale to monitor the health and weight of his beef cattle. He previously had to transport his cattle once a month to his uncle’s house to weigh them which caused considerable stress and weight loss; exactly what Jacob was trying to avoid. Thanks to his new scale, Jacob can now breathe easy and monitor them at home weekly to ensure they are gaining weight properly.
Jacob is currently a senior member of 4-H and has been a member of the Southern Maryland Meats Junior program since its inception in 2017. He and his mom, Mary, operate Prosperity Acres in Sunderland where they raise beef cattle and meat goats. The farm, a long-time member of the original Southern Maryland Meats program, was recently featured in ‘Taking Stock’, a new book of photographic portraits and insights about the farming families behind Southern Maryland Meats which is now available to order.
Traditionally, SMADC has supported youth in agriculture through the Southern Maryland Invitational Livestock Expo (SMILE) and Southern Maryland Meats Junior program. The Mini-Grant program is now another possibility for experienced youth to further their interest and obtain seed money for small start-up projects. Projects should be simple in scope and able to be completed relatively quickly. SMADC will award up to $2,000 per applicant for qualified projects, with a one-to-one match by the applicant. You can find the list of past recipients and their projects here.
Congrats Jacob! We look forward to supporting more youth projects like this through the Farmer Mini-Grant.