Thursday, May 17, 2012

Maryland Horse Council Farm Stewardship Committee

May 15, 2012 Quarterly Meeting Report

The Farm Stewardship Committee's mission is to demonstrate the positive contribution of well-managed horse farms to the protection of our natural environment and to encourage and support Maryland horse farm owners and managers to achieve the highest standards for healthy horses and environmentally-sound farm practices.

Moving toward these goals, we presented three interesting projects at the Quarterly Meeting.  The first presentation was on the relatively new (established 2009) Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP).  The program is under the auspices of the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts.  The program director, Gerald Talbert (geraldtalbert@verizon.net410-247-1973) made the points that the certification is completely voluntary, meets the highest standards of environmentally-sound farm management, includes a free comprehensive farm evaluation and provides farms meeting the certification standards with an impressive farm sign (attached), "Certified Agricultural Conservation Steward” and a picture and descriptive paragraph on a dedicated FSCAP webpage.  Thirty-sixfarms have been evaluated and 24 have been certified.  These include two horse farms, Persimmon Tree Farm and Steve Darcey’s EdgewooFarm.  The owner of Persimmon Tree Farm, Carolyn Krome (, presented lovely pictures of her horse boarding and competition facility and described her positive experience with receiving her farm certification and tapping into other technical assistance and financial support to meet her goals of quality farm management.  She has graciously offered to host a Maryland Horse Council Farm Stewardship Committee meeting at her farm to further explore these and other programs.  

The second presentation was on Nutrient Trading by George Maurer ( and Steuart Pittman (  They reported that the nutrient trading market was getting up and running and that horse farms may be able to "sell" nutrient credits earned through good farmpractices, such as not using as much fertilizer as allowed under present nutrient management plan guidelines.  George proposed that he could evaluate the potential of Maryland Horse Council member farms to receive credits and help connect with the credit buyer.  Steuart is having his Dodon Farm evaluated for credits and is identifying a potential buyer. 

The third presentation was by Les Vough (vough@umd.edu301-405-1322) and Michael Heller (mheller@cbf.org301-351-4940) of the Maryland Grazer's Network.  The Grazer's Network was established in collaboration with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the University of Maryland and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.  It has been targeted toward providing technical assistance and, especially peer-to-peer mentoring, on rotational grazing for the cattle, goat and sheep industries.  As our horses also graze and healthy pastures are good for them as well as for the environment, the Grazer's Network is interested in exploring how to engage Maryland horse farms in their activities.  

If you are interested in more information on any of these programs, please feel free to contact the project leaders directly and/or me or Farm StewardshipCommittee vice chair Amy Burk (  We will be organizing a meeting of the Farm Stewardship Committee and all interested Maryland Horse Council members.  Please let me know if you are interested in attending and I will make sure you get the meeting information.  We are hoping to hold this meeting at Carolyn Krome's Persimmon Tree Farm ( and to include a farm tour. 

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