Maryland Department of Agriculture Invests $650,000 in Innovative Soil Health and Agroforestry Practices
ANNAPOLIS, MD (June 15, 2023) The Maryland Department of Agriculture today announced that 16 projects will receive grant funding totaling $650,000 through the new Healthy Soils Competitive Fund. This unique program provides financial assistance to qualifying farms—large and small—and organizations that adopt innovative conservation practices that benefit climate, soil, and water.
“We are delighted with the response to this new grant program that encourages innovative conservation ideas and strategies from local farmers and growers,” said Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Kevin Atticks. “It’s a win-win for healthier food, cleaner air, and improved water quality in our streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay.”.
The pioneering projects funded through the Healthy Soils Competitive Fund receive up to $50,000 to support three years of enhanced healthy soil practices. Grant recipients receive 20% of the funds upfront, with the remainder distributed annually upon verification of progress. Innovative conservation practices supported by the fund in 2023 include:
Whole farm conservation practices for small-scale vegetable/organic vegetable production and cut flower production (6 projects)
- Alley cropping for chestnut production (1 project)
- Multi-story agroforestry for diversified fruit and vegetable production (2 projects)
- Silvopasture systems for organic hogs and sheep (3 projects)
- Vermiculture for vegetable production (1 project)
- Specialized conservation equipment sharing for small-scale vegetable production (1 project)
- Silvopasture and Burgundy and Appalachian Truffle production (1 project)
- Biostimulant and nutrient reduction field trials (1 project)
Maryland’s Health Soils Competitive Fund was developed based on recommendations by the Soil Health Advisory Committee. Funding support is provided by the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund and through the Moore-Miller administration’s support of the Climate Solutions Now Act. Farm size is not a consideration for grant approval. In the program’s pilot year, the department received 42 applications from farmers across the state, with 16 applicants selected for funding. In addition to the conservation practices listed above, grant awardees will share progress over the course of the grant term.
Maryland’s Healthy Soils Competitive Fund accepts applications during its annual open enrollment, which takes place for approximately 8 weeks beginning in January. For updates and more about the program please visit MDA’s Soil Health website.
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