Owl’s Nest Farm is a diversified vegetable farm on four acres in Prince George’s County, just twenty miles from Washington, D.C. Established in 2016, the farm is Certified Naturally Grown and they currently sell their products through a CSA, Farmer’s Market, and Restaurants. They applied for the SMADC Agricultural Mini-Grant in July 2017 to build a rainwater catchment system for their high tunnel to ensure reliable water access during the winter months. This allows the farm to expand and continue to meet the demand for fresh, local produce to restaurant customers as well as stabilize cash flow by adding income during December and January.
The total cost of the project (including construction labor, hardware, lumber, and misc. supplies) was just over $3,000. The rainwater catchment system was designed and constructed by Earth-Bound Building, Farm and Forestry based out of Cambridge on the Eastern Shore.
The project is already having a significant impact on the business by allowing them to maintain strong relationships with key contacts. “With fresh greens as the anchor, we’re already thinking about how we might expand winter sales in 2018. For example, this year, we harvested and stored root crops like watermelon radishes and hakurei turnips to sell to restaurants in addition to the greens and in 2018, we’re planning to expand production of these root crops that we can harvest and store throughout the winter,” said Liz Whitehurst, owner and operator of Owl’s Nest Farm, and added, “If we can continue to increase winter income, we may be able to offer winter hours to our seasonal staff, which will help with employee management and turnover.”
Liz was also recently featured in a Washington Post story about the growing movement of young farmers in the U.S.
SMADC is glad to be making an investment in Southern Maryland agriculture and seeing the results from our first round of Mini-Grant recipients! Stay tuned for more features from Mini-Grant awardees.