July 2021 Newsletter

July 2021 Newsletter



July Newsletter

In July, we were thrilled to host state legislators and staff at two farms. We explored regenerative crop and livestock production and urban agroecology at BLISS Meadows/Backyard Basecamp with farmer Jordan Bethea and naturalist and Executive Director Atiya Wells. We also toured the pastured livestock and diversified vegetable operations at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Clagett Farm with farmers and Vegetable Production Manager Carrie Vaughn and Vegetable Operations Assistant Manager Jared Planz.


At the BLISS Meadows tour, we were joined by Delegate Mary Lehman from District 21, Delegate Regina Boyce from District 43, Senator Cory McCray and Delegates Stephanie Smith and Chanel Branch from District 45 (BLISS Farm’s District), Delegate Harry Bhandari from District 8, Delegate Jon Cardin from District 11, Delegate Sheila Ruth from District 44B, Delegate Ric Metzgar from District 6, Delegate Pam Queen from District 14, and Eden Durbin, representing Delegate Jarod Solomon from District 18.

At Clagett Farm, we were lucky enough to see Delegate Queen again, this time alongside Delegate Darryl Barnes from District 25 (Clagett Farm’s District), Delegate Dana Jones from District 30A, Delegate Rachel Jones from District 27B, Delegate Jim Gilchrist from District 17, Delegate Andrea Fletcher Harrison from District 24, and Andrea Crooms, Acting Director of the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment.

Stay tuned, there’s much more to come!

Enroll in the Million Acre Challenge

Million Acre Challenge Events

First Thursday Soil Health Hub Meeting
Thursday, August 5 at 7 a.m. | Register here

Join our Soil Health Hub meetings every first Thursday of the month for networking and farmer-to-farmer connections. Bring your soil health challenges and inspirations. These meetings are for farmers and those who support them. All production systems and all scales are welcome, and the agenda is intentionally unstructured to give you time to check-in with others. Whether you’re asking questions, helping answer them, or just listening in, this is your time to get into the nitty gritty of soil health how-to for your farm. This month’s conversation starter: How Do You Know If Your Soil is Healthy?

Soil Health to Go!
Wednesday, August 11 at noon | Register here 

Grab your lunch and get ready to learn! This month, we chat with Emily & Lydia Chamelin of Aerie Farm East. Their goal is for the farm to provide delicious meats raised in a humane, regenerative, and holistic manner. Aerie Farm East is family owned and managed by Emily and her high-school-age daughter, Lydia, with help and support from husband/father, Kevin Hickman. They are dedicated to raising their animals on grass to allow them to express natural behaviors and have a varied diet of numerous types of grasses and forbs. Emily and Lydia assure rich flavor in the meats they sell as well as optimum health of all their animals by intensively managing where and what they graze. Emily, Lydia, and Kevin raise classic old style Cheviot sheep, Miniature Zebu Cattle, Guinea Hog heritage pigs, and a few Saanen dairy goats. In addition to managing their farm, Emily and Kevin run a full-time sheep shearing business, together working the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and around the world.  

Farmers’ Stories 

Taste is Oksana Bocharova’s measure of success for her produce grown in Chestertown, Maryland.  

“When I’m selling at the [farmers] market, people say, ‘Your vegetables are so tasty!’ And I know I’m doing something right,” says Oksana. 


Soil Health Hubs

Regional Soil Health Hubs are where growers connect with each other to explore practices, strategies, and opportunities to make farmland more profitable and resilient through healthier soil — we hope you will join us!

Soil Health Resources  
  • American Farmland Trust recently published updates to their Soil Health Economics Toolkit, which helps technical assistance providers create case studies of soil health successful farms in order to demonstrate the costs and benefits of healthy soils practices. 
  • Virginia Tech has a new soil health resource page including tons of great information on soil health measurement and monitoring, a cover crop calculator, and more coming soon!
  • “Linking Soil and Watershed Health to In-Field and Edge-of-Field Water Management” a new report from the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Scientific & Technical Advisory Committee explores the importance of agricultural water management to achieving soil and watershed restoration goals. Read the full report. 

Soil Health Events

On-Farm Composting & Compost Use Webinar Series
Join the Institute for Local Self-Reliance for their first session in their On-Farm Composting & Compost Use Webinar Series. This presentation, at noon on August 24, will discuss on-farm composting fundamentals.

Sustainable Agronomy Virtual Conference and Conservation in Action Tour
Lots of information for agronomists, growers, and technical service providers on carbon farming, regenerative agriculture and other important conservation topics.

NC Soil Health Workshop Series
NC Cooperative Extension is hosting a monthly virtual workshop series on soil health, exploring the breadth of research and management strategies. The next webinar is August 17th.

Save the Date!

Future Harvest Conference
January 13-15, 2022. Now accepting proposals for workshops, sponsorships and exhibitors! 

Delmarva Soil Summit
February 7-8, 2022. Groundwork for the Future for farms of all sizes.

News of Note
MDA offering $1,000/acre incentive for participating in long-term conservation program 
Maryland farmers who are enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) with contracts due to expire on Sept. 30, 2021, now have the opportunity to transition to a 30-year contract option through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Clean Lakes, Estuaries, And Rivers initiative (CLEAR30). To encourage participation, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is offering a one-time bonus payment of $1,000/acre as an incentive for CLEAR30-approved contracts in Maryland. Learn more here.
Growing Climate Solutions Act passes through Senate
The Growing Climate Solutions Act that was reintroduced in April passed through the Senate last month. The Act would “help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resilience through voluntary, market-driven programs.” Read more from the American Farm Bureau Federation.Chesapeake Bay Commission proposes USDA Chesapeake Resilient Farms Initiative
The Chesapeake Bay Commission recently released a proposal to invest over $700 million in conservation programs on farms in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Read the full proposal.


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