View this email in your browser

Your friends at the Beginning Farmer Success Program are excited to announce the beginning of a monthly 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 will feature events, resources, and farmer spotlights. 

Stay tuned for Beginning Farmer summer events!

Resources for Market Research & Designing your Farm Business

Beginning Farmers - Are you on a market research quest? Maybe you are already frequenting farmer's markets, considering your selling options and preparing to set up your stand next year. Or perhaps you are wanting to learn how to conduct market research for your farm business. There are many directions you can explore for your farms business and we have resources to share to help you on your quest. 

July 27th, 2022 from 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM  Mid-Atlantic Women in Agriculture is hosting: Wednesday Webinar: How to Conduct Market Research

Considering accepting SNAP/EBT and WIC Payments at the farmer's market?  Read UME's article How to Accept SNAP/EBT and WIC Payments as a Farmer.

If farmers markets are not your goal and you would rather find an individual buyer or two, consider selling to schools. Selling Local Food to Schools: A Resource for Producers USDA Farms to School Program.

Watch UME Agriculture and Food Systems recent cafeteria tour with tips for farmers who want to sell to local schools.

Events & Webinars



Urban Farmer Field School

July 8 - Farmer Field School Ashland Community Development Corporation
9:00 AM -12:00 PM RSVP
In-person event

This year we are trying a "barn-raising" or "harvest-party" format. We will gather at the farm or garden hosting the workshop, learn from Extension educators and farmers how to do key farm tasks, and help with what the farm or garden needs extra hands for that day, sharpen our hands-on farming skills. These events will be free and cold drinks and snacks will be provided.     

Maryland Dairy Day is July 12
9:30 AM - 2:30 PM RSVP
In-person event 
The University of Maryland Extension is partnering with The Maryland Dairy Industry Association to host an on-farm dairy educational event on July 12th, 2022, at Coldsprings Farm in New Windsor, MD. The program will run 9:30 am - 2:30 pm and include lunch. Topics will include fertilizer strategies, calf management, and compost barn management.

Beef Short Courses

University of Maryland Extension and the Department of Animal Science have partnered up for these short courses which provide producers with educational information and hands-on training in several areas of beef production. Focus areas vary slightly from year to year but may include topics such as basic beef cattle production, beef cattle reproduction, and pasture development and management.

For 2022, the Series I workshops (Fundamentals of Beef Cattle Production) will be repeated. For details, agendas, and registration information, click on the link below.

Maryland Beef Webinar Series:

 JULY 19
 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
 Zoom Event
Integrated Pest Management for Backyard & Community Vegetable &  Fruit Gardening. 

Mid-Atlantic Green Roof Science & Technology Symposium

Join UMD staff, students, and researchers to learn about the latest results on green roof scientific research and technological developments.

Hear from local, national, and international experts on new research avenues aligning with resilience, social equity, changing climate, biodiversity, & the integration of innovation into standards of practice.

Symposium Topics include:
• Evolution of a Maturing Industry
• Green Roof System Functions - Ecology & Biodiversification
• Monitoring for Performance
• Resilience and Responses to Climate Change

This event takes place on Thursday, July 14 & Friday, July 15.

Farm Stress Management Workshop for Agriculture Service Providers

This workshop is designed for Agriculture Service Providers to equip them with the skills and knowledge to support farms and farm families in times of distress. The University of Maryland Extension Farm Stress Management Team will train service providers to identify signs of distress, develop skills to communicate with those experiencing stress and provide resources both locally and nationally. Financial and regulatory topics will also be discussed as they are often contributors to stress on the farm.

Upcoming Trainings

Culture of Farming (3-part series)

Dates: June 22, June 29, July 6 (Wednesdays) | 10 AM - 11:30 AM | Cost: Free

Location: Virtual

Target Audience: Medical, Mental Health Providers, Social Workers

Family Communication and Estate Planning Workshop Upcoming in Charles County

Estate planning for farms is a complex subject to navigate -- families must create a plan of succession for the business,and  understand the legalities of property inheritance, all while dealing with the emotional toll of having difficult conversations with their loved ones.  University of Maryland Extension specialists have joined forces to create a workshop that helps farm families maneuver through the legal portions of estate planning and provides tools and techniques to break down the barriers of communication that make these conversations so difficult.

The Family Communications and Estate Planning workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on July 16, 2022, at the Charles County UME Office. (Charles County University of Maryland Extension Office: 9501 Crain Highway Bel Alton, MD 20611)

Pre-Veraison Vineyard Management and Site-Cultivar Selection Intensive 
August 3- Full Day

Penn State University is coordinating a Pre-Veraison Vineyard Management and Site-Cultivar Selection Intensive Workshop on Wednesday, August 3, at Vox Vineti, 49 Sproul Rd., Christiana, Pennsylvania. This in-person full-day workshop will visit multiple locations and review approaches to site selection, matching cultivar and vineyard design to vineyard site, pest management, winemaking strategies, and more! 

Tractor College

Join the Maryland Soybean Board and the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board for Tractor College! This educational workshop will include speakers on topics such as tractor operation, maintenance, hazardous materials, towing, legal risks, road safety and more! Lunch will be provided. While this is a free event, pre-registration is required.


Farmers and employees are invited to this complimentary event to promote rural road safety.


Howard County:

Fri, July 22, 2022 - 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM EDT

Howard County Fairgrounds

2210 Fairgrounds Road

West Friendship, MD 21794 


Talbot County:

Mon, August 15, 2022 - 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Talbot Agriculture and Education Center

10659 Hiners Lane

Easton, MD 21601

Farmer Spotlight

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.

Last month Vanessa Lubiner invited the University of Maryland Extension Baltimore City to visit Talmar Horticultural Therapy Center in Baltimore County, where they works as the Farm's Sustainable Agriculture Instructor. TALMAR's Mission is to enhance health for people of all ages and abilities through horticulture. The Veterans Affairs Farming and Recovery Mental Health Services (VAFARMS) program provides sustainable agriculture training for military veterans seeking mental health treatment. Vanessa has been leading TALMAR VAFARMS program since 2021. 

Farmer Profile: Vanessa Lubiner, Sustainable Agriculture Instructor & Farmer


When did you start farming? 

I started farming "in a real way" in 2014 when I moved to Baltimore. I volunteered on farms in college and enjoyed it. I knew I wanted to get involved in Urban Agriculture and food justice, so I started volunteering on farms in Baltimore and worked as a farmer through AmeriCorps. After many jobs in farming and forest education, I started a full-time position as the Sustainable Agriculture Educator at TALMAR in 2021.  


Tell us about TALMAR. Who are the farmers, and how long has it been in operation? What specific needs or problems are addressed? 

TALMAR Horticultural Therapy Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization located in Cromwell Valley Park. The farm's goal is to make farming accessible for people who are usually excluded from the average farming landscape. Because we are a Horticulture Therapy Center with a farm, we value programs over production. In other words, production is in service to programs. VAFARMS is a compensated work therapy program, so our participants are directly involved in the everyday tasks of farming.TALMAR's occupational therapist runs nature programs for adults with autism, stroke survivors, and people with dementia and Alzheimers through a Memory Cafe program. The farm is ultimately cared for by all staff members and three farm management apprentices, who are experienced farm workers who seek more management experience.

We have a farm stand offering a variety of herbs, greens, and strawberries, and soon, we will have tomatoes. The farm stand is open weekdays from 4 pm to 6 pm, right here on the farm. Much of our food has been donated to local church food banks, the Gerofit VA program, and others. Our newest venture is bee hives. We are partnering with Mission Believe and Hank's Honey. The venture could be described as a fledgling social enterprise, and its intention is for veterans that have gone through our farming program to return and practice business skills. We are lucky to connect veterans with Mission Believe, which mentors veterans and first responders in beekeeping. It is a robust two-year mentorship program. We also started a mushroom growing operation this year for the same purpose. 


What crops do you grow? How many acres/lots is the farm?

We grow mainly vegetables, lots of greens and herbs. Talmar has 10 acres, but we actively farm about two acres. Currently, we have about one acre in full production. We have five hoop houses, mushrooms, and six bee hives.   


How do you deal with weeds? With insect pests? 

We follow Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and organic practices, although we are not certified in either. We have implemented an integrated pest management system. We hand-pick weeds, remove pests by hand, and interplant flowers (such as marigolds) that deter pests. We use soapy water and peppermint or hot pepper essential oil on special occasions. We try to rotate our crops consistently, so we do not expose the same crop to the same location and, therefore, the same pests two years in a row. For dealing with weeds, we straw mulch our beds to suppress weeds and consistently add straw to keep the layer thickness. Otherwise, lots of hand weeding or coming through with a stirrup hoe. Weeds happen, and making the rows look picture perfect is not a priority. We also understand that some weeds attract pollinators and are important forage for our bees. We often leave white clover in the field, sometimes we leave rye cover crop with whatever new crops we plant. Otherwise, we will leave violet, deadnettle, and plantain (among others) at the edges. I really like dandelion and thistles plants, but because it spreads so easily, we try to pull those up by hand. It is a delicate balance.


What tools have had the most significant impact? 

Literal Tools: Hand-held stirrup hoe. It scrapes the soil's surface to get weeds out without much disturbance, and you have more dexterity with a regular full-size stirrup hoe. I feel I am a hands-on farmer. I use minimal machinery. I am one of the few farmers that do not know how to drive a tracker. I tend to stick to hand tools. This approach may not suit some people, especially large-scale farmers, but it works for me. 

Inspirational tools: I follow Leah Penniman, who wrote Farming While Black, and Chris Newman of Sylvanaqua Farms, who was a keynote speaker at a Future Harvest CASA Conference. I also listen to many podcasts (such as anything in Stephen Satterfield's Whetstone Radio, For the Wild Podcast) and follow many farmers, organizations, and thinkers (such as a Growing Culture on Instagram or Planting Justice in Oakland). I also participate in classes with Herban Cura and discussion groups with the Jewish Farmer Network and others. 


Why is this business model successful? 

Our past Executive Director developed many relationships, and TALMAR's current Executive Director, Kate Joyce, is bringing our relationships, fundraising, and infrastructure to a new level. Horticulture therapy programming is not as popular as you think, even with all the research about the healing benefits of connecting with nature/tapping into our own nature. TALMAR is small but mighty because there are enough people to support the Mission. We have long-term partnerships. Teaming up with the Veterans Affairs Office of Rural Health and Vocational Rehabilitation for VAFARMS has helped further develop TALMAR's therapeutic goals. TALMAR has existed since 1998 and has a long relationship with the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks' Office of Therapeutic Recreation and Cromwell Valley Park. The cross-pollination of these organizations with TALMAR has put us in a position to focus on building long-term infrastructure. 


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

I would have spent more time and care to learn how to move my body efficiently and safely while farming. You spend a lot of time bending over, swatting, couching, lifting, getting up and down, and on your knees for hours. People don't talk about this very much. As farmers, there is a tough-it-up mentality. When running a business, sometimes you don't have time to think about your body. I think there could be a more common practice around taking the time to listen to and protect your body. I am only 30 and feel the effects of maladapted movement habits. I want to do this my whole life, so I have become conscious of my body while farming. 


Do you have any advice for Beginning Farmers? 

Baltimore is a great place to farm if someone is interested in learning. I have been farming in Baltimore for over eight years, and many people want to organize around agriculture. Try to carve out space to be still and present on the farm, so you don't lose sight of the incredible plants and ecosystems. Take the time to get to know the land. If farming in the city, be respectful and engaging with your neighbors. 

In a work-related context, get your priorities organized while you're on the farm and in the field. Don't waste your time and energy on tasks that don't necessarily affect your outcome. Identify your priorities and organize from there. These priorities could be beautification, getting food to people, creating a long-term ecosystem, etc.

TALMAR is open to the public and is located at 1994 Cromwell Bridge Rd, Baltimore, MD 21234 - Located in Cromwell Valley Park

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
University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected class.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.