News from the fields, farms and beyond…

More than 200 acres of Cecil County farmland have been entered into preservation through the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation.

In Chesapeake City the 115-acre farmland owned by Jean Major, known as the A J Major Farms LLC, was brought into the MALPF program. It’s part of a larger, 420-acre parcel encompassing the farm; which Jean and her husband Joe purchased in 1959 and raised their family.

Up the road a piece in Rising Sun, Robert and Roberta Durgin entered their Wilson Road property into preservation as well. Their 103-acre plot was once part of another farm, which was split in 1830. Purchased by the couple in 1958, much of the land has returned to forest but the original farmhouse and milk house are still there.

With these acquisitions there is now more than 58,500 acres of Cecil County land in preservation. In 2000 the county set a goal of having 55,000 in the easement program that permanently protects the land from future development.

“Cecil County’s agricultural legacy will continue in perpetuity with these natural, preserved properties,” said County Executive Alan McCarthy. “It is truly an honor to have more Cecil County farms recognized in this way.”

To get more information on preservation opportunities contact Devyn King at the Department of Land & Use Development Services at 410-996-5220.

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Mid-Atlantic Certified Crop Advisers is offering $1,000 scholarships for students pursuing a degree in plant sciences, soil science or agronomy. Scholarship winners will also be given free access to the CCA certification test upon graduation.

The MACCA scholarship is available to residents of Maryland and Delaware as well as Virginia and West Virginia. MACCA established the scholarship program in response to the declining number of students enrolled in these programs.

“Mid-Atlantic Certified Crop Advisers believes it is important to encourage students to consider careers in agronomy by supporting their educational needs through financial support,” a MACCA statement reads.

The deadline to apply is Feb. 19. Go to midatlanticcca.org for details and an application.

Any questions should be directed to Jenell Eck at 443-262-8491.

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If your family name is Kirk, Brown, Gatchell, Haines, Hughes, England or Reynolds you may be interested in a program coming to Calvert Grange next week, sort of.

L. Harvey Kirk III, a local author of numerous books on the Kirk family, will speak virtually Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. Space is limited for this Zoom event so go to calvertgrange.org and click on ‘events’ to register for the program entitled “West by North East; Kirks of Cecil and Chester Counties.’

Over many years Kirk has researched his family going back to the 17th century starting with Roger Kirk, a Quaker cooper in North Yorkshire England.

“One of his sons emigrated to the Wilmington, DE area in 1688, then three grandsons came to Cecil Co.; Lancaster Co., Pa., and Wilmington, Del.,” Kirk said via email. “All four thought they were in Pennsylvania.”

The Kirks and many others from the family tree are deeply embedded in the farm community of Cecil County and neighboring areas.

“Most lived in the rural areas and made their living off the land and in working class craft occupations. Many Cecil and Chester Countians will relate to them because they still count themselves as part of the land,” he said.

Kirk’s presentation will include lots of photos showing the ‘then and now’ of familiar areas.

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Nominations are being accepted now by the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation, Inc. for the 2020 Velma Clark Excellence in Teaching About AG Award. The award goes to the educator who shows he or she engages students with agricultural information and experiences in a non-agriculture topic.

Teachers in any Maryland school --public or private — working in grades Pre K through 12 can apply with an application form, narrative and a lesson plan by Dec. 4.

Along with a $500 classroom stipend the winner also receives a scholarship to attend the 2021 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference to be held June 28-July 1 in Des Moines, Iowa.

For more information and an application go to maefonline.com and click on ‘Educators’ to get to the Grants and Teacher Awards page.

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It’s the time of year to think Christmas trees and in 2020 Cecil County has lost two of its well-known tree growers. Sylvia Underwood from Pine Valley Christmas Trees in Fair Hill passed in February and Richard Montgomery from Cherry Grove Tree Farm in Rising Sun passed Sunday.

In fact at the end of October Cherry Grove made the painful decision to remain closed this holiday season because of the pandemic. This pauses the 40 year tradition of being open for trees, garland, wreaths and decor at the farm on Little New York Road.

Bill Underwood opened Pine Valley for the season last weekend.

And while on the subject of COVID and Christmas, Milburn Orchards announced yesterday that there will be no visits with Santa in the Big Backyard this year.

”It is with heavy hearts that the Milburn family has decided to cancel pictures with Santa this year, due to the ongoing pandemic and increased safety measures,” read the announcement dispatched Thursday afternoon.

Pictures with Santa was supposed to begin Dec. 7.

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Blame it on the weather. A second extension has been established to plant fall cover crops.

Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program is allowing planting until December 1 for qualifying cover crops of wheat, spelt, rye, and triticale. Only farmers that use no till, conventional, or broadcast with light, minimum, or vertical tillage qualify. However because of the extension suppression/kill down has also been extended to May 21, 2021.

Farmers that plant between Nov. 13 and Dec. 1 will still qualify for the program, if all the requirements are met.

Contact the Cecil Soil Conservation District for details and an application; 410-398-4411 ext. 3. You must contact CSD by Dec. 8 to receive reimbursement.

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As Thanksgiving approaches keep Cecil County farms in mind and consider purchasing local turkeys, vegetables and other products --don’t forget the wine, cheese and ice cream — for your holiday feast. The Maryland’s Best program supports agriculture, seafood, and the products of these operations.

MarylandsBest.Maryland.gov has a comprehensive list of farm-to-table options.

If you have a farm related event, idea or story you’d like to share in AgriCulture contact Jane Bellmyer at jbellmyer@cecilwhig.com or 443-245-5007

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