BFRDP Projects

Ensuring Beginning Farmers` Long-Term Commercial Success
[Final Report]

Award Amount: $597,599
Grant Program: 2016 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Awards
Project Director: Sarah Sohn
Organization: Future Harvest - Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture


  • Overview
  • Results
  • Materials
  • Delivery Area
  • Comments

Project Overview

According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, of Maryland's 12,400 farms, 20 percent are owned by people 65 years or older - a percentage that rises with the addition of farms owned by 55-65 year olds. With agriculture the largest industry in Maryland, contributing 350,000 jobs, the mass loss of farmers and their expertise in the upcoming 5-10 years, coupled with land-access obstacles for new farmers, could create a labor and farming vacuum with grave effects on the state's economy. What's more, agriculture remains the single largest source of sediment and nutrient pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, contributing 40% of nitrogen and 50% of phosphorus, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program. Much of this can be reduced by farmers well trained in cover cropping, drip irrigation, buffers, rotational grazing, and other conservation innovations that also allow them to remain profitable.

The Ensuring New Farmers' Long-Term Commercial Success: A Comprehensive Beginner Farmer Training Program for Maryland project collaborative developed and implemented a comprehensive program for first-year and intermediate-level farmers that included: 1) a supportive mentor community and resources for farmer success over the long haul; 2) specialized training in grazing, urban farming, and restaurant marketing for those interested; 3) a market outlet for new Baltimore area farmers, Chesapeake Farm to Table, which is set up to work with and train new farmers; and 4) needs-based mini-grants and flexible apprenticeship scheduling to meet needs of socially disadvantaged and low-income farmers. The project played a critical role in growing a new farmer workforce well-trained in practices that ensure long-term economic success, reduce agricultural pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, and build soil health. 

Number of Participants: 5664


Promotional Materials

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Educational Materials

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Reports & Evaluations

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Delivery Area

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Individual Stories / Examples of Success