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Welcome to the Maryland Beginning Farmer Success Newsletter. 

The Maryland Beginning Farmer Success Project provides new farmers with resources and contacts to be able to explore enterprise options, refine ideas, develop plans and strategies, and implement their farming practice. 

Each month our newsletter features events, resources, and interviews with fellow beginning farmers and agriculture industry professionals working to support farming initiatives throughout the state. 


In This Issue: 

Online Trainings & Courses
  • September Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) Classes 
  • New Online Training Available to Assist Growers Better Understand Risk Management Tools.
  • Solar Workshop Series
  • New Online Course for Maryland Cottage Food Producers and On-farm home processors.
Grants & Opportunities
  • USDA's application for Conservation Innovation Grant on Farm Trials (CIG) is now accepting applications.
  • Urban farm incubator in Prince George’s County accepting applications for 2023 growing season. 
Farming Resources
  • Industrial Hemp: What Farmers Need to Know.
  • Beginning Farmer Guidebook

Webinars, Events and More!

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)

Good Agricultural Practices Training - Sign up NOW for September 14 -15The class is being offered via Zoom in two four-hour sessions. Attendees must participate in all eight hours of training. This class will be followed by others. Contact Carol Allen or 240-994-5043 to take advantage of this opportunity and for more information.  An MDA Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) Certificate can be a gateway to new markets. GAP certification is typically required when selling to schools, wholesale buyers, and some restaurants. The process starts when either the owner or a food safety officer of the farm attends a GAP training class. The classes teach not only safe produce growing, handling, and packing standards, but also helps the students write their farm food safety plan while in class. Once the farm food safety plan is written and implemented, the operation invites an MDA auditor to visit their farm. The farm practices must align with the farm's food safety plan. When the audit is passed, the GAP certificate is awarded.


Online Trainings and Courses

 Maryland Farmer Success Online Course

This summer, the University of Maryland (UMD) is partnering with the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) and USDA to create a four-module online training course, Maryland Farming Success. The online training course is separated into four modules designed around preparing farmers for success by providing information about available USDA programs and creating the ability for participants to have a successful business plan, including - mission and goals, enterprise budgeting, risk management, and legal risk management. For more information on the Maryland Farming Success learning course, or to REGISTER, click here, FREE. This material is funded in partnership by USDA, Risk Management Agency, under award number RMA21CPT0011599.

Maryland Food Ventures Online Course
The Online Course for Maryland Cottage Food Producers and On-farm home processors is brought to you by Maryland Food Ventures. In this course you will learn important information regarding starting or expanding a value-added food business in Maryland. Course topics include Product Development, Food Safety & Licensing, as well as Financing. For more information on the Maryland Farming Success learning course, or to REGISTER, click here. FREE

Solar Workshop Series
Are you interested in using solar to power your home, farm or business? If so, you'll want to join this Solar Training workshop offered by the University of Maryland Extension. The workshop will cover important topics and hands-on training that will help you decide if solar is right for you, and how you can install a solar electric system that will meet your needs. Topics will include:
  • How solar energy works and what role it plays
  • How solar impacts you as a homeowner or landowner
  • How to finance and facilitate a solar project


SEPTEMBER 12, 2022
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

September 13, 2022
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM 

Monthly Webinars


Maryland Beef Webinar Series: Spring Stocker Cattle Recap: Successes and Lessons Learned

SEPTEMBER 13, 2022, 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM Join us for our monthly beef cattle webinar series on the second Tuesday of each month from 7:30-8:30 pm. During this session, we will discuss tips for stocker cattle management.  

Women in Agriculture 2022 Wednesday Webinars.

Offered the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. They are FREE and open to all! . September 14, Decision Making Resources and Tools for Cover Cropping and Other Best Management Practices Mid-Atlantic Women in Agriculture | 12:00 PM. With so many choices, planning conservation practices can be overwhelming. For example, when planning a cover crop we must consider species, planting and termination dates and methods, seeding rates, etc. September 28, Farming Time Management Mid-Atlantic Women in Agriculture | 12:00 PM. Work-life balance is a challenge, but add in the farm and you've got a recipe for a demanding life. We will discuss how to balance your life on the farm to help get all your tasks completed.

 Tours & Events

WMREC Sprayer and Pesticide Application Twilight Meeting
SEPTEMBER 1, 2022, 5:00 PM - 7:30 PM. Western Maryland Research and Education Center (WMREC) REGISTER FREE

Effective Pesticide Application Twilight - WyeREC
The Basics of Composting 
SEPTEMBER 10, 2022 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM. An introduction for the beginner gardener or novel composter to what is involved in establishing a basic compositing system in their home garden or garden space. REGISTER FREE
Adventures in Medium-Scale Food Scraps Composting 

Pasture Walk at Kefauver Farms
SEPTEMBER 22, 2022, 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM. 
Join the University of Maryland Extension, NRCS, and the Kefauver family for an educational field day focused on multi-species grazing at Kefauver Farms in Clear Spring, MD. REGESTER FREE

Herb Gardens: Beautiful and Beneficial Herbs for any Backyard

SEPTEMBER 24, 2022, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM. Either interspersed within your landscape, added to your vegetable garden or in a container on your deck, herbs are among the most useful plants to consider growing. Let us show you how to incorporate them into your backyard. REGISTER FREE

Poultry Farm Management for New & Existing Growers


REGISTER $25  - includes a memory stick with all the information from the day to take home with you; certificate of completion for each participant; and a light breakfast and luncheon


Farmer Spotlight

Last  month Laura Beth Resnick invited the University of Maryland Extension Baltimore City to visit Butterbee Farm in Pikesville, Baltimore County. Butterbee Farm is an organic cut flower farm offering blooms year round across Maryland and D.C.

Beginning Farmer Success Interview Series 

This series aims to spotlight and celebrate Maryland farmers and inspire and offer farmer-to-farmer tips and advice to our readers.

Farmer Profile: Laura Beth Resnick, Butterbee Farm owner and farmer

Tell our readers about your farm. What does your farm grow? How did you get started? 

We grow flowers that are distributed locally throughout Maryland and D.C. We started the business ten years ago at Whitelock Community Farm in Baltimore City. After about a year, we moved to the county to expand the farm. We got lucky because an old family friend allowed us to farm on their land in Pikesville. We transitioned the property out of commercial corn, and we're on four and a half acres growing about 200 varieties of flowers, flowering shrubs, woody perennials and ornamental grasses

Who is your target client, and how does your business get its' products/services into customers' hands? 

About 85% of our business is selling wholesale to florists, and the other 15% is direct customer sales. However, we don't design, make bouquets or arrangements. We have two heated greenhouses so we can grow year-round. We offer garden classes and have an online store, but most of our business is flower sales. We make our real money from the heated greenhouses and the flowers that come out of the greenhouses can be sold for a lot. Also, not many flower farmers have flowers in the winter, they are really expensive to grow. 

How do you decide what to grow? 

So, to back up for a second, over 80% of the flowers sold in the United States come from other countries and are shipped to wholesalers across the country. They are big warehouses, and the product doesn't hold up well. They've been packed in semi-frozen boxes and often have pesticides on them. So we try to grow stuff that can compete with the wholesaler. For example, geranium has really tender foliage and doesn't ship very well. It has to be grown locally.

We have winter meetings with our florists yearly, and we've been doing this for ten years. We have learned what flowers are popular based on the seasons and holidays. We know that our florists like unique foliage. The scent of things is motivating for customers. So the geraniums are so good for us and the eucalyptus. It's great. We don't grow a lot of carnations because there is too much crossover with the wholesalers. 


How did you find florists to buy your product? 

We were fortunate to meet a florist in Baltimore who buys 100% local flowers. It's called Local Color Flowers. We met the owner, and she convinced us to grow flowers instead of vegetables. However, we still needed more clients. In the beginning, we had to work hard to get them to buy from us because it's easier for florists to buy directly from a wholesaler, but we don't grow enough to sell to wholesalers. I would say close to 95% of the florists I would reach out to never got back to me. However, over the years, Local Color Flowers has been very influential in the local cut flower industry and has inspired a lot of other florists to buy locally. Having a champion is excellent for the industry. 


Why is your farm business model successful? Why do customers choose to do business with your farm?

Our quality, people know us for our quality, and that's something that we've intended. We train our team intensively on harvests. We're meticulous when it comes to harvest, which is reflected in the product. 

How many employees do you have? 

There are three of us, but it adds up to two full-time, all women. In the morning, we harvest; in the afternoon, one of us goes out on delivery, and the other two stay on the farm and weed or attend to farm needs. 


Tell us about your farming practices.

When we transitioned the land from commercial corn, we added a lot of organic matter. We still farm using a lot of organic matter. Also we implement organic no-till methods that do not spray herbicides. Occultation is another practice we use. What you do is put a tarp down on the ground that you want to prepare for planting. You leave that down so that it gets really warm. In the summer, it can happen quickly, even just a few weeks, and what is left is essentially just soil with lots of life. Then we use a broad fork to fluff up the soil and plant. After doing this for nine years, we have a lot of organic matter in our soil, and the nutrient levels are pretty balanced. 

We have a rule that we don't spray anything in the field except for BT, an organic bacteria we use on our ornamental cabbage. It's very specific because we can't grow an ornamental cabbage unless we use it. Otherwise, we don't spray anything in the fields, so if we have a bad cucumber beetle year in the dahlias, we lose a bunch of dahlias, and it's okay. It's still frustrating.

In the greenhouses it's a different story because it's just such an unnatural environment. We're growing flowers in the winter, so bugs like to be there. In the greenhouses, we rotate using certified organic pesticides to treat specific spots with releasing beneficial insects. We work with a company that ships us parasitic wasps, ladybugs, and stuff like that. They are called IPM Labs, and they are great because we tell them when we have crops in the greenhouses, what crops, and the temperature, and they put us on a schedule according to our details. They are specific for commercial growers, but ARBICO is another company that anyone can order from online. 

When you started farming, local cut flowers were a relatively new crop for Maryland farmers. What advice do you have for new farmers who are assessing whether a “trendy” new crop is a viable business venture or a passing fad? 

Flower farming did get super popular with Instagram. There was a huge boom in the number of people quitting their jobs and starting to grow flowers for sale. This boom created an issue in the industry where many new growers haven't done their research and often don't know how much to charge, or they underprice, or the quality isn't that good, which then turns off customers. So I guess my advice would be to do a ton of research so that you are making enough, so you're charging the right amount, and that your quality is what it should be. One way to do research is to join the Trade Organization. It's called the ACFG, The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Or, you can join Future Harvest Casa or get involved in your local Extension. But do the research. It's a gift to yourself and the community you're joining.

What tools have had the most significant impact? 

We love the BCS tractor; it is friendly for smaller framed people, which is lovely. You can adjust the handlebars, and it is easy to walk behind. We don't till, so we use the BCS for mowing. We have the flail mower on it that I love because it can cut through brush and woody sunflowers. And then there's another attachment we use to build permanent raised beds. It's like a plow that flips all the soil to one side. So you can go down the aisle and put all the soil into the bed, and then you go down the other side and flip the soil the other way until you have a nice mounded bed. We don't do that yearly, only when beds need to be remade. Still, our bed prep is quite labor intensive. 


Butterbee farm is transitioning to Harford county this fall. What are your plans for the new land? Will you need to prepare the land for growing? 

The new land is very low acidity with no organic matter. So we have to do it all again. But we know how to do it now, so that's good. We brought in a ton of really expensive compost for our new greenhouses from Vermont Compost Company. They make the best compost on the Eastern Seaboard. So we got a huge shipment, and we're just going to spread it by hand and plant directly into it. It is critical for the business to have spring flowers ready. So after this push, we'll have many years to build organic matter on our own. We will also be farming on 4 ½ acres with multiple heated greenhouses. 

We have a lot of interesting plants, burgundy foliage, calycanthus, Magnolia, mock orange, and lilacs. All these varieties are a tree that we can cut on. Over our nine years here, we have done a lot of experiments in the field. Some things worked, some things didn't, and a lot of it we're leaving behind for the next farmer on this land. Some plants we are going to dig up and  transplant.

 We also decided to stop growing in the summer and take some time off. Summer is often slower because people are tending their own flower gardens. 

Looking back, can you share something you would have done differently as a farmer if you knew what you know now?

Yes. Perennial flowering, invasive weeds. Do not let invasive weeds flower, or your whole farm will be taken over. 


 Do you have any advice for beginning farmers? 

Don't feel like you have to be an expert at everything. Farming can be overwhelming, and there are so many things to learn. Start small, get good at it, and then add something new. 


You can find out more about Butterbee Farms by visiting, or register for their November online class CROP PLANNING FOR FLOWER FARMERS and take a deep dive into the  architecture of flower farming.

8/11/2022; Interview with Laura Beth Resnick - Butterbee Farm  &  Andrea Franchini - Extension Program Assistant: Agriculture and Food Systems. 

The University of Maryland Extension strives to provide the most current research-supported, environmentally friendly methods for growing food, ornamentals, livestock, and native plants in Baltimore City and throughout the state.

Are you looking to grow your agriculture business idea?

Cultivating Entrepreneurship is our Coaching Assistance Program that provides conversations to help you launch or grow your business idea. The University of Maryland Extension has trained business coaches that know the ins and outs of agriculture and food-related businesses. An entrepreneurial Coaching session is free of charge, and all individuals interested in growing their businesses are invited to participate.

Join The Conversation


Free Therapy Services for Farm Families

Summer Fun

Support local agriculture this summer by attending one of the many county or state fairs held in Maryland this summer. 

Avian Influenza Resources

In response to the multiple cases of High Path Avian Influenza (HPAI) on farms in Maryland and Delaware we have compiled the following resources.


COVID-19 Resources
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