News from the fields, farms and beyond…

On The Bit Equestrian Center at 1700 State Road in Oxford is growing faster than a foal since it opened in October.

Tanya Sellers, one of four owners of the boarding and riding facility, said that’s due to the commitment of property owners Tim and Sandy Siple.

”There were only 12 stalls so we negotiated with the landlord to build 5 more,” Sellers said, adding he recently built another four 12-by-12 stalls inside the barn. The owners of On The Bit brought 16 horses from a Cecil County facility that was closing. Since opening in October they brought in two tenants and have room for three more.

”What makes us unique is this is a self-care facility but we provide the hay and straw,” Sellers said. Self care typically just means the tenant has a field and a stall. “We have no in house trainer or barn manager. You can bring your own.”

Sellers said the tenants have formed co-ops, meaning the twice daily care of the horses is shared.

”We have an indoor riding ring that’s 70-by-140 feet with excellent footing,” she said. “We’re in the process of negotiating with the landlord for an outdoor riding ring.”

On The Bit Equestrian Center is an LLC owned by Sellers, Deanna Chard, Nancy Lehr and Jennifer Mink.

For more information find On The Bit Equestrian Center on Facebook or call 856-803-0792.

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It’s a simple question but the answer can be complicated.

”What to do with all the poo?”

Take a virtual tour of Filbert Street Gardens in Baltimore City with Future Harvest CASA Feb. 23 from 3 until 5 p.m. and see how this urban gardening operation deals with the waste generated by poultry, goats, sheep and beehives. It’s also home to a successful composting operation.

Among the topics of discussion will be gaining knowledge of the pathogen sources ahead of planting and harvesting your crops. You’ll also learn some beneficial landscaping tricks to reduce the risk of contamination.

Future Harvest calls this session “useful for established farmers and valuable to beginning farmers.”

It’s a free seminar. Go to futureharvestcasa.org to register

Then on Feb. 25 Future Harvest CASA will pivot and offer an online seminar on grant writing specifically for farmers.

From 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. get the ins and outs about grant writing including the process involved and how to find the grant for you. Learn from those with experience who will also provide you with a list of resources and funding opportunities.

The seminar is free but Future Harvest, a non-profit, welcomes donations to cover its costs.

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Maryland Department of Agriculture is in search of proposals for its Specialty Crop Block Grant, with applications due by April 7.

According to USDA, specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, honey, hops, grapes, maple syrup, Christmas trees, and nursery crops.

The SCBG is a competitive grant program where monies are awarded from $15,000 to $140,000. Food safety projects will be those given priority funding.

Maryland residency or farm operations in Maryland is required to apply. Forms and more details are available through Maryland’s OneStop website; OneStop.Md.gov

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A parasite that hijacks iron from honeybees has been discovered through the US Agriculture Research Service in Beltsville, Md.

Nosema ceranae can cause bees to lose this nutrient, which is essential for reproduction, development and immunity.

”In a number of mammal species, there is an iron tug-of-war between host and pathogen that is part of the central battlefield that determines the outcome of an infection. But this has not been explored before in honey bees and not with Nosema,” said Yan Ping “Judy” Chen, an entomologist with the ARS Bee Research Laboratory.

Basically the parasite causes the bees to become more starved for iron, Chen said. That leans to the parasite being able to do even more damage.

Of interest to beekeepers, there is no treatment for nosema ceranae. Having first only affected Asian honeybees, it’s now being found in European honeybees.

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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is in search of public input on its proposed Migratory Game Bird Seasons for 2021-2022.

Comments will be accepted online, via telephone or fax through Feb. 26.

If approved this is the first year the duck season will split the state into two zones with Cecil County being in the East Zone. There would also be three season segments. Changes to bag limits and possession limits are also being considered.

To see the full explanation of the proposed changes or to make comments go to https://dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/Pages/hunt_trap/Comments/MGB_Seasons/MGB-How-to-Comment.aspx

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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