Jun 20, 2023
16 Maryland farms receive up to $50,000 to support conservation efforts

The Maryland Department of Agriculture has selected 16 farms and organizations to receive a share of $650,000 to aid the adoption of conservation practices benefiting climate, soil and water.

Projects funded through the Healthy Soils Competitive Fund will receive up to $50,000 to support three years of enhanced healthy soil practices, according to a news release. Grant recipients receive 20% of the funds upfront, with the remainder distributed annually upon verification of progress.

“We are delighted with the response to this new grant program that encourages innovative conservation ideas and strategies from local farmers and growers,” Kevin Atticks, Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary, said in the release. “It’s a win-win for healthier food, cleaner air and improved water quality in our streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay.”

Conservation practices supported by the fund in 2023, its pilot year, include:

  • Whole farm conservation practices for small-scale vegetable/organic vegetable production and cut flower production (six projects).
  • Alley cropping for chestnut production (one project).
  • Multi-story agroforestry for diversified fruit and vegetable production (two projects).
  • Silvopasture systems for organic hogs and sheep (three projects).
  • Vermiculture for vegetable production (one project)
  • Specialized conservation equipment sharing for small-scale vegetable production (one project)
  • Silvopasture and burgundy and Appalachian truffle production (one project)
  • Biostimulant and nutrient reduction field trials (one project)

Farm size is not a consideration for grant approval.

The department received 42 applications from farmers across the state, according to the release.

The fund accepts applications during its annual open enrollment, which begins in January. It was developed based on recommendations by the Soil Health Advisory Committee. Funding support is provided by the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund and the Climate Solutions Now Act.

More information is available online at https://mda.maryland.gov/resource_conservation/Pages/Soil-Health.aspx

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