by Alicia Pimental
March 13, 2008
A new farmer-to-farmer mentoring program will help improve the economic productivity of Maryland farms and bring healthy, grass-fed livestock to local restaurants and residents – all while reducing pollution to the Bay.
The Maryland Grazers Network will help innovative farmers spread among their peers a Bay-friendly agricultural practice called rotational grazing, which involves moving livestock to different pastures once grass is grazed below a certain height. Livestock are then returned to the original pasture once grass grows tall enough to be grazed again. This process allows grass to rejuvenate and animal manure to fertilize the pasture.
The Network relies on a four-pronged approach that links:
- Farmer-to-farmer relationships
- Economic and environmental planning
- Innovative agricultural practices
- Consumer marketing
This four-pronged approach helps improve the farmer's bottom line while reducing polluted runoff into local waterways and the Bay.
The Network was launched with eight mentoring farmers and is now soliciting new farms to join. Participating farmers receive:
- Support from expert farmers in grazing and marketing.
- Free economic and environmental assessments of their farms to determine potential economic savings and pollution reductions.
The Maryland Grazers Network was established by a contribution from the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network, a funding collaborative that fosters opportunities for funders to pool resources and work together on Bay watershed restoration issues. Partners in the Maryland Grazers Network include:
- The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Clagett Farm
- The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
- The University of Maryland College Park
- Maryland Cooperative Extension
- Future Harvest
- Farmer mentors
To learn more about the Maryland Grazers Network, contact Michael Heller at Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Clagett Farm.