University of Maryland Extension

University of Maryland Extension Offers Urban Farmer Field School

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BALTIMORE, MD — University of Maryland Extension will host five farmer field school workshops to help urban farmers develop their agricultural enterprises for success. Held at farms across Prince George's County and Baltimore City, each Urban Farmer Field School in the series will cover a different topic and provide participants with the opportunity to learn in a hands-on setting, and set goals for improving the financial viability of their urban farms.

The series, developed as part of a grant from the Northeast Extension Risk Management Education Center, funded through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), will help current and aspiring commercial urban farmers in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. metro regions move from crisis-management to proactive risk management.

“Many urban farmers become overwhelmed by the daily challenges of farming, spending their time seeking short-term financial solutions to keep their urban farms afloat,” said Neith Little, urban agriculture Extension educator in Baltimore. “We want to help urban farmers use risk management strategies to move from survival mode to a more proactive understanding of what their farms need to thrive.”

In June, UMD Extension hosted focus groups in both Baltimore City and Prince George’s Co. to collect feedback on current challenges, needs, and opportunities for growth in urban agriculture in the region. The feedback determined the content of the farmer field schools, as a well as a future guidebook, to assist urban farmers.

 

"Achieving economic viability is an urgent concern for urban farmers," said Mariya Strauss, executive director of the Farm Alliance of Baltimore, a grassroots membership group of 16 urban farms in the city. "They face unique challenges such as having less land than rural farms do, and sometimes they struggle even to keep the little land they do have. The Urban Farmer Field School project will help them with business planning and other key pieces to support them in these unique struggles."

 

The Urban Farmer Field School series begins in August. Topics include marketing, self-care, business structure, insurance, and production techniques such as irrigation. Workshops are three hours, include light refreshments, and require a $10 investment. For more information and to register, please visit go.umd.edu/UFFS.

 

The Urban Farmer Field School series is organized by UMD Extension, with support from the Northeast Extension Risk Management Education Center funded through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), EcoCity Farms, Farm Alliance of Baltimore, Prince George’s County Soil Conservation District, MidAtlantic Farm Credit, The Greener Garden Urban Farm, and Real Food Farm.

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