Master Gardener training course begins February
Master gardeners are volunteer educators of the University of Maryland Extension who educate residents to garden more effectively and sustainably. They do this in part through projects at schools, libraries and public events.
To become a master gardener, adults must take a training course and then contribute at least 40 hours of volunteer service with the program that year. Each following year, volunteers complete at least 20 service hours and 10 continuing education hours. In 2016, Master Gardeners logged almost 4,000 hours of volunteer service in Charles County.
The 2017 master gardener basic training course will be held 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Feb. 2 through April 6, at Thomas Stone High School in Waldorf. The course covers a range of topics such as botany, ecology, soils, vegetable gardening and more.
Students receive instruction from extension and other professionals as well as experienced master gardeners. Those with a Maryland teaching certificate may receive three CPD credits for completing the course.
Cost for the course is $175 which includes a copy of the Maryland Master Gardener Handbook and other course materials. Space is limited. For more information, go to go.umd.edu/becomemg or contact Luke Gustafson at LNG@umd.edu or 301-934-5403.
Beginning farmers tell their stories in new series
“Tomorrow’s Harvest: Beginning Farmers Tell Their Stories,” a project by the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) designed to showcase the varied faces of new farmers in Maryland and the value of mentorship in agriculture, has released a new series of inter views featuring six farmers.
Participants were drawn from Maryland FarmLINK’s Mentor Match program, which pairs new farmers, including those branching into new types of farming, with an experienced farmer with relevant expertise.
The project highlights the rich diversity of Maryland agriculture that is evolving to replace the centuries-old, single-crop (tobacco) model, as well as the varied backgrounds of those embarking on new farm careers today. Highlighted farms range from a flower farm in inner-city Baltimore to a produce farm on the banks of the Patuxent River in Brandywine. Participants are varied as well. Some are young entrepreneurs building a first business; others turned to farming mid-career.
John laquinta teaches career skills at a nonprofit that provides assisted living and vocational opportunities to individuals with developmental disabilities in Anne Arundel County. He is the driving force behind creating Langton Green Community Farm, a place where developmentally disabled adults make up most of the workforce. He got the idea after visiting a vocational program on a farm in California.
“I was receptive to this [concept] because it was exactly what I wanted to be doing personally,” said laquinta, who had to quickly learn many new farming skills as he worked to get the new farm up and running. “I had a 15-page business plan on my boss’s desk a week later. I knew that we could really do this.”
laquinta credits his mentor, Scott Hertzberg of Jug Bay Market Garden, with being instrumental in setting up the farm. “Scott came out to the farm and it was wonderful to have a sounding board to walk through and tell us if what we wanted to do made sense. We were purchasing equipment so it was helpful to ask him what size, what attachments were necessary, what made sense as an equipment package.”
A theme that arises across many of the “Tomorrow’s Harvest” stories is the innovative ways new farmers acquire farmland today.
One story chronicles an unusual suburban farm spread across multiple lots, including fields in neighboring backyards. “We like to call this ‘creative reuse of suburban land’,” said Jason James, co-owner of Moon Valley Farm. It’s a non-traditional way to acquire farmland, but the business is thriving. “I am an opportunist,” said James. “As farmers, I think we have to be.”
Another new farmer, Walker Marsh, carved out farmland by reclaiming adjoined abandoned lots in the Broadway East neighborhood in Baltimore. ”We had to consolidate the 13 lots on this half-acre I’m farming, and that took forever,” Marsh said. “You have to approach farming different in the city.”
Priscilla Wentworth, program director for Maryland FarmLINK and the Mentor Match program, is instrumental in pairing the new farmers with mentors, and feels that mentorship is an important resource for new farmers.
“Programs like the Men- tor Match are in place to keep farming alive in our region,” Wentworth said. “It’s encouraging to see people choose farming as a career, not just young people, but those of all ages. The people in these stories are the future of farming, and they are all creative and smart, and really interesting to listen to.”
The beginning farmer stories can be found at www.smadc.com/NewFarmerStories.
The Mentor Match program accepts applications on a rolling basis. Details can be found on the website, or by contacting SMADC.
Soup kitchen serves dinner twice a week
Our Place Waldorf Soup Kitchen serves dinner 5-6:15 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays. Hot meals are provided at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 305 Smallwood Drive, Waldorf, in a comfortable, caring, unbiased environment to anyone who is hungry. Go to www.ourplacewaldorf.com for more information.
Recreation dept. provides new sports notification system
The Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism encourages program participants and frequent facility guests to go to www.RainedOut.com and sign up to receive free text messages or emails regarding program or facility cancelations and closures due to inclement weather. The online portal is now open for registration at www.RainedOut.com, (keyword: Charles County Recreation) or by texting RPT01 to 84483. In the event of inclement weather, the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism staff will use RainedOut to send important notifications in- cluding cancelled events, facility closures, changed plans and reminders.
During the registration process, individuals can manage their message settings and provide preferred contact information. Message options include notifications via text message, email or both. Notifications will also be uploaded onto the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Facebook and Twitter feeds.
RainedOut is powered by Omnilert, a company that develops intuitive communication technologies that keep communities safe and connected. RainedOut is the first text message service for sports leagues and clubs. It is a cloud-based service, which participants may opt in or out at any time, or change their notification settings.
For more information, contact the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism at 301-932-3470. Citizens with special needs may contact the Maryland Relay Service at 711, or Relay Service TDD: 800-735-2258.
Public invited to provide input on Hughesville Village Draft Zoning
The Department of Planning and Growth Management is developing new zoning regulations for the Village of Hughesville.
The public is invited to provide comments and input on the draft zoning text and map, posted at www.CharlesCountyMD.gov/pgm/planning/hughesville-village-revi-talization-plan-and-implementation. The county is offering this additional opportunity for public input in advance of the required public hearings before the planning commission and board of commissioners.
The new zoning is a key component in implementing the 2007 Hughesville Village Revitalization Plan, which calls for promoting infill development and revitalization while preserving and enhancing the village character. The project area contains land currently in the Village Residential (RV), Village Commercial (CV), and Light Industrial (IG) zoning districts.
Comments may be sent to Amy Blessinger at BlessingA@CharlesCountyMD.gov or by mail to Charles County Government, Attn: Planning Division, P.O. Box 2150, 200 Baltimore Street, La Plata, MD 20646. Send comments by Jan. 13.