News from the fields, farms and beyond...
Any young people interested in beekeeping should also be interested in the Susquehanna Beekeepers Association.
Adults should also learn more about the organization that covers Cecil and Harford counties, but young people especially since a grant is being offered under the Young Beekeepers program. Anyone 14-to-18 years of age with an interest in beekeeping needs to apply for the grant by Jan. 29. The form and all information is available at susquehannabeekeepers.com
Those who receive the grant will get a start-up hive and equipment and a mentor assigned by SBA. Bees will be made available at cost from the membership. Included with the program is mandatory attendance of the virtual Beekeeping Short Course offered by Harford Community College.
Bradford Luff is a member of SBA and enjoys tending to his hives, which are set up in four Cecil County locations; Pine Valley Farm in Fair Hill, Flying Plow Farm in Rising Sun, West Nottingham Academy in Colora, and at Luff Family Farm in Chesapeake City. A fifth set of hives is at Old Stone Cider right over the county line in Lewisville, Pa.
“I did this in the 80’s for about six years,” Luff said as he checked on hives at Pine Valley. He returned to it 10 years ago after he retired from ATK (now Northrop Grumman). “I took it back up and joined the Susquehanna Beekeepers.”
He’s working with other organizations to incorporate apiaries into those programs including Cecil Land Trust and the Patsy DuPont Farm, which is close to Pine Valley. SBA wants people to understand how fragile honeybees are and how to protect them and encourage them to pollinate crops and flowers.
Luff hopes to get more people involved in the hobby. It costs about $300 to start.
“You can buy bees or catch a swarm,” he said. He has a swarm box, which will attract the bees and encourage them to create a hive and grow a queen.
He recommends having at least two hives for comparison. He’s monitoring better than 50.
“A normal hive has 10 frames,” he said as he opened one and discovered the hive had died. Others, however, did have live bees. While he checks them throughout the winter, Luff said the bees start to get busy in the spring as temperatures warm. He will harvest the honey and the comb and sell it under the Pine Valley Farm logo.
“We had it in Taste of the Chesapeake and it’s sold at Benjamin’s Store (in Colora) at Pine Valley and at Luff Family Farms,” he said.
The 2021 schedule for Women in Agriculture Wednesday webinars have started and on Jan. 21 it’s Drying Foods Safely.
Now through the end of the year the Wednesday Webinars are offered the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Each free virtual seminar begins at noon and lasts one hour. Future topics include Understanding Opportunities to Access Federal Conservation Programs, Estate Planning and What You Need to Know to Grown Your Own Fruit.
To find out more or to register for these free Wednesday Webinars go to https://extension.umd.edu/womeninag
It’s now called The Cecil County Farm Museum and Regional Agriculture Center and activity at the Appleton Road facility has been ramping up with hopeful plans to host events this year.
“Our first event is in June,” said Paula Newton, board member and director of the Historical Society of Cecil County. Of course all that depends on the pandemic but still they continue to plan and prepare.
Part of that preparation is setting up displays in stalls built inside the large metal building; each for a different theme.
“We have up over 600 items now. Probably closer to 1,000 once I finish inventory,” said Molly Brumbley, who joined the board of directors to honor her late father and board member, Phil Johnson.
There’s a display of a 1930s-1940s farm kitchen, a mercantile, and an early 20th century living room among others. Brumbley is always open to antique equipment donations or loaners; especially the antique farm equipment.
“We’ll always take a look at it,” she said. Historic photos, containers and signage from Cecil County farms is of particular interest, she added. “Feed bags, local dairy bottles. We’re concentrating on local stuff.
“We want to do a Cecil County barn display with signs, maps, anything that identifies an old ag business in Cecil County,” she said.
Newton said the photos can be scanned so the originals do not leave the owner.
While not a tractor museum, the Cecil County Farm Museum and Regional Education Center does want to display how transportation has evolved from a farm perspective.
“We want to show a transition from horses to mechanization,” Brumbley said. She also put out a call for a specific piece of equipment. “We would like to have a hay press. One thing we are also looking for is a wooden hog scalding trough.”
Beneath the museum displays is the Learning Center where CCFM/RAC is going to bring together students to learn about Cecil County’s rich farm history and current production. As a retired teacher, this element is exciting to Mel Bacon, executive director of the museum.
“Dr. (Jeffrey) Lawson agrees this should be part of the curriculum,” Bacon said, adding that curriculum is being written. The museum also has a relationship with the Cecil County School of Technology and its Ag Sciences program.
While getting the museum set up is important, Bacon, said there’s a drive on to build and broaden the board to include farms and farmers south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.
“We’re adding a lot of experts,” he said, noting that those experts include representation from the Historical Society of Cecil County (Newton) and representatives from Cecil County Public Schools. Bacon would like to see this become another regular school trip similar to the Fair Hill Nature Center. They’ve also found a partnership with Winterthur Museum, Gardens and Library in Wilmington.
“Rob Plankington, estate and landscape supervisor, spent several hours here and he has offered to help us with guest speakers,” Bacon said.
In anticipation of all this activity the board is also in the early stages of construction of a building to hold public, handicapped accessible restrooms and a commercial kitchen. The kitchen would be part of the learning experience but also would be available to cottage industries in the county in need of commercial space to process its products, such as jellies or pickles, for sale to the public.
Anyone interested in joining the board, donating or loaning materials, or just wanting more information, can start by sending an email to email@example.com.
“We just need people to realize this is here,” Brumbley said. “We need involvement and people who are interested in history. We don’t want people to forget the rich ag history of Cecil County.”
The 51st Taste of Maryland Agriculture will be held Feb. 4 from 7 until 8 p.m. Of course it has to be virtual this year but it will still tempt you with dishes made from meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, herbs and more grown or produced in Maryland.
The Maryland Agriculture Council will also celebrate its seven grant winners.
Also during the virtual event toe 2021 Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame Family will be crevealed.
Find out more at Maryland Agriculture Council Facebook page.
If you have a farm-related event, idea or story you’d like to share in AgriCulture contact Jane Bellmyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-245-5007.