As November rolls in, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s Small Farm Program gears up for their annual Small Farm Conference. This event has successfully provided outreach and training to 600+ participants (beginning, limited-resource, socially disadvantaged farmers and landowners and others) since the conference first initiated in 2003. This event alone has been recognized as one of the premier agricultural events on the Eastern Shore, attracting on average about 150-175 attendees each year where people travel from all over the state of Maryland, the District of Columbia, and along the Delmarva Peninsula to attend. The overall objective of the conference is to provide a venue where participants can come together to network and learn about new opportunities and strategies that promote farm profitability and sustainability.
Due to increased participation and interest in select agricultural topics over the past five years, the Small Farm Conference moved from a one-day event to a two-day educational conference. Day 1 of the conference features up to three or four comprehensive, half-day workshops that encompass classroom instruction along with a hands-on activity or a field demonstration component. Topics can range from Soil Health and Vegetable Production to Direct Marketing and Home Food Preservation.
On Day 2, participants have the opportunity to select three out of the nine different seminars offered under the following educational tracks: Alternative Agriculture, Farm Business and Marketing, and New & Beginning Farmer (added in 2013). In addition, participants have the opportunity to network and visit with agricultural vendors and exhibitors including USDA agencies, the Maryland Department of Agriculture, agricultural businesses and various non-profit organizations that support agriculture.