Harford accepting applications for agri-business incubator

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BEL AIR — Harford County has begun accepting applications for a new agri-business incubator under construction in Street. The incubator, named “The Grove,” will offer rentable space at low cost for farmers, food processors, artists and other producers of homegrown goods to sell directly to consumers. The Grove is co-located with the Harford County Agricultural Center at 3525 Conowingo Road.

“Building on our success with The GroundFloor incubator in Havre de Grace, The Grove will let small business owners set up shop and test the market,” County Executive Barry Glassman said. “For consumers, The Grove will bring new products and a direct connection to agriculture in Harford County.” The Grove is expected to open in April and cost about $1 million to build. Governor Larry Hogan’s proposed budget includes $400,000 in state funding toward the total.

Once completed, The Grove will be able to accommodate 16 businesses in eight stalls on the outside and eight on the inside of the building. Each stall will be 16 feet by 12 feet.

Business owners must apply with the county by Feb. 15. The annual cost of a stall is $1,800 for the outdoor, $3,000 for the indoor or $3,600 for indoor/outdoor. If the county receives more applications than spaces available, the stalls will be competitively bid among those received. New applications must be submitted each year.

The Grove will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week and businesses will be required to be open at least three days a week for four hours a day.

The Grove is the second phase of the Harford County Agricultural Center on 86 acres in Street that is home to Harford’s ag community, including the Harford County Soil Conservation District’s state and local offices, the University of Maryland Extension Office, the Maryland Department of Forest Pest Management, the Harford County Farm Bureau and the Joesting-Gorsuch House.

The third phase will be two educational hiking trails to highlight projects such as soil conservation best practices, gardens by Master Gardeners and native species identification. With a public pavilion and agricultural-themed playground at the beginning, the trails will be connected to the adjacent Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding property. Construction is expected to start by spring 2021.

The Grove is named for the farm from which the Joesting-Gorsuch House, also known as the “Blue House,” was moved by Harford County in late 2016 to the Ag Center site.

For The Grove applications, rules and regulations, visit www.harfordcountymd.gov/TheGrove.

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