News from the fields, farms and beyond…

If you travel along Blake Road between Fairview and Little Elk Creek Roads you will get the opportunity to witness agriculture in action through the joint effort of the Patricia DuPont Foundation, The Mill of Bel Air, The Ewing Brothers, Cecil Soil Conservation District and Cecil Land Trust.

It’s the first step in a larger project being planned that would make the 182-acre DuPont property a destination to learn about not only farming, but gardening, pollinators, and horses.

Butting right up against the road is three separate test plots of winter planting including tillage radish and crimson clover.

“This is both illustrative and public outreach,” said Chris Brown, district manager of CSCD. For the farmer it shows the benefits of each variety in areas of nutrient return, compaction and erosion control. The take away for everyone else is to show the role of agriculture in land protection and good stewardship.

For the next several months the plants will each do its job, but in the spring will be either harvested or tilled under for the spring crop. During this time CLT and the DuPont Foundation will be working toward developing the educational and recreational elements with the equestrian sports that Patricia “Patsy” DuPont loved so much.

Grace Hiter and Janet Graven are devoted to keeping DuPont’s passion alive and plan to offer horseback riding to all, even those that may not be able to afford private lessons.

“We want the kids to have exposure to horses,” Hiter said, adding she sees a future where the local school and 4-H would attend. “Perhaps this would start them on a career with horses.”

Graven said this would be a family-focused destination with multiple activities available at the same time.

“Suppose you have a family with three kids but only one wants to ride,” she said. “They can learn about something else such as gardening or go hiking.”

Bill Kilby, president of the land trust, said this would become a working farm where people can visit and events such as festivals and 5K runs could be held. But first and foremost it’s to help the farmers, both the experienced and the new.

“We’re trying to reach out to the Amish community and get them involved in conservation,” Kilby said. With growing numbers of the anabaptist sect in Cecil County Kilby said it was decided “this was an ideal place.”

•••

In the interest of better water quality through smarter gardening, the University of Maryland Extension is inviting land owners to be come “Bay-Wise.”

Cecil County Master Gardeners will come alongside homeowners to help them learn landscaping that is not only attractive but also beneficial to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

The Bay-Wise program begins with the selection of “MD Yardsticks” that best suits your needs, whether landscaping or vegetable gardening. Learn about efficient practices that preserve your land and protect the bay.

Contact the Cecil County Master Gardeners first at 410-996-5280 and then get the yardsticks at this website where you will also find other helpful publications: https://extension.umd.edu/baywise/publications

•••

Future Harvest CASA wants to pick your brain and put together a plan that would avoid problems with the US food supply chain such as what has been seen since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Organizers developed a four-step project and step one invites folks to “Dump” their ideas by Nov. 13 for the Resilient, Crisis-Ready Food System.

Step two is titled Lump and puts all those submitted ideas into one big bucket for consideration. What’s next is Dots, putting the ideas in order by priority. Next is the Plot in which the plan will begin to take shape. It will be introduced at the Future Harvest Annual Conference in January.

To participate in the Dump and get your plans included in the Big Virtual RCR Idea Bucket go to futureharvestcasa.org

•••

Cecil County farmers who are participating in the federal Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 could receive a bonus payment from Maryland of up to 15%.

The CFAP1 program was designed to help producers of agricultural commodities such as corn, soybeans, cut flowers, nursery, small grains, specialty crops, dairy and livestock (but not poultry) and specialty crops who have suffered losses at 5% or greater.

The losses would have come from a disruption of the supply chain due to COVID-19. The funds will help with identified significant marketing costs.

Maryland’s CFAP2 program includes contract poultry, which is not eligible at the federal level.

Janet Rhodes with the University of Maryland Extension in Queen Anne’s County said the US Department of Agriculture is aware of the gap.

The funds will help with losses suffered because of supply chain or production hiccups thanks to the novel coronavirus.

“Farmers are really excited that the government is helping,” Rhodes said.

Even better, all the forms to apply are part of the Maryland One Stop Portal.

“Maryland did a great job,” Rhodes said of the website that makes enrollment to virtually any state program start at one location. “You register and find your program.”

•••

Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation will hold its annual Banquet and Auction virtually Nov. 10-12 from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Each evening MAEF will gather to explore and celebrate the reasons to be thankful and will feature different guest speakers.

From Nov. 7 through Nov. 13 MAEF is hosting a silent auction on its Facebook page.

A donation of $50 is suggested to attend the virtual banquet. As much as 75% of your donation goes directly toward the foundation’s mission to educate about agriculture.

Go to maefonline.com for tickets or contact Amie McDaniels at 410-939-9030 for more information.

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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