News from the fields, farms and beyond…

Chicken Tractors Store is a new Cecil County business born of the pandemic according to Mark Smith.

Born and raised in farming, Smith said he couldn’t help but notice the growing interest in vegetable gardening, canning and other self-sustaining practices.

“I, as a lot of other people, lost my employment due to COVID,” Smith said. Also like others, he started to plan his survival.

“What could I do to generate revenue and help people become food secure,” he wondered. That led to research on chicken coops, and in particular, mobile coops.

Contemplating a career move into organic farming, Smith got the idea for these moveable coops that have a number of benefits

“You can have free range without the fear of air and land predators,” he said. Starting with a coop about the size of a small shed, he designs structures with the professional, commercial and residential operation in mind. Situated on sled rails with a set of wheels allows the coops to be moved around the pasture. “These allow the birds to eat fresh grass and insects and get plenty of fresh air.”

In fact, right now Smith is in search of local farmers to lease land to him so he can have a working model of these chicken tractors to show to potential customers. He’s also offering cash discounts on certain models.

To find out more check out his website at chickentractors.store. There you will find all the options as well as information on payment, shipping or delivery.

“These are all built in Cecil County,” he said.

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Cecil County Farm Museum and Regional Agricultural Center is hosting its Apple Butter Festival, COVID-style with on site pick up of the jars of sweet brown goodness Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. This year there will also be hot meals ready for take out featuring brisket, pulled pork, ribs or smoked beef and sausage. All will be dressed with Hambone’s Sweet Secret sauces. You can even get a full rack of ribs. All meals include baked beans and corn bread. Drinks are extra.

The Cecil County Farm Museum is located at 820 Appleton Road near Elkton.

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If you are interested in farming but have no heritage or background, Future Harvest CASA has a program available to get you started and help you and your farm thrive.

Enrollment is now being accepted for the Class of 2021 of the Beginner Farmer Training Program. In person and online class options are available. Farmers in the region also come alongside you for hands-on experience.

The Beginner Farmer Training Program offers three levels to meet you where you are in your journey.

Contact Sarah Sohn, BFTP director, for more information at sarah@futureharvestcasa.org

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The Winter CSA is officially open for enrollment at Flying Plow Farm on C. Johnson Farm Lane in Rising Sun.

Fans of fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs and more can get weekly or bi-weekly shares of this Community Supported Agriculture program December 2020 through March 2021 (with a break from Dec. 24 through Jan. 5). This is the first Winter CSA for Flying Plow Farm.

Offerings will include root crops. salad and cooking greens, mushrooms, cheese and eggs. These items will also be available for purchase from the farm operated by Sarah Ryder and Tom Paduono through their virtual farmers market.

The couple is adding more greenhouses and tunnels to increase their offering of locally grown produce.

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The Cecil County Extension Office is open by appointment only for people who need a personal meeting with a staff member. Call 410-996-5280 to get set up for your meeting.

Meanwhile the office continues to find programming to help people interested in becoming self-sustaining during the pandemic. On Nov. 6 at 3 a new program begins entitled “Grow It, Eat It, Preserve It.” Herbs and spices are the topic of this free program held virtually.

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Cecil Land Trust has found a way to support its cause, raise funds and have fun through the Great Outdoors Challenge.

Alisa Webb, executive coordinator for CLT, said she borrowed the idea from the Harford Land Trust but made it bigger and better for Cecil County.

Webb got permission from Harford Land Trust to use their Great Outdoors Challenge and make it their own.

“Harford County does it for one month but we’re doing it for the whole year,” Webb said. “We can’t do our Robert Burns Dinner and we can’t do our Cycle For Cecil.”

Participants sign up, individually or as a family or group, and use the interactive map on the Cecil Land Trust website to find places to hike, bike, kayak, walk and otherwise explore the county in which they live.

“See how many miles you can walk,” she said. As she compiled the list of locations for the map Webb said she discovered new places to explore including Calvert Regional Park. She added that some of the farms CLT has helped place into preservation will also be part of the year-long event.

“And we thought, why not incorporate local business?” Webb said. She has a growing list of participating stores, restaurants and destinations that are donating prizes; five of which will be given away each month to those enrolled in GOC.

To enter the Great Outdoor Challenge it is $20 per person, $40 for a family and for corporations, businesses or clubs the cost is $80.

“Registration gives you access to the interactive map and your log,” Webb said.

“I’m excited. With COVID so many people are eager to get outside,” she said. “With so many people telling you what you can’t do, we’re giving you something you can do. It’s a great opportunity.”

Meanwhile, it helps CLT continue its mission.

“Cecil Land Trust is still operating, still putting land in preservation. We still want to educate the public,” Webb said.

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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