Monday, March 4, 2013

Maryland Horse Council
Winter Farm Stewardship Committee Meeting
Summary Report

            The Third Farm Stewardship meeting took place on February 18, 2013 in the comfortable and heated lounge of Lori Larson’s lovely Wyndham Oaks Farm.  Overlooking the impressive indoor arena, 25 members of the Maryland horse community gathered to discuss land stewardship issues with the overall goal of contributing to healthy horses and a healthy environment in Maryland

            Jane Thery, the committee chair, opened the meeting with an overview of the committee priorities of: promoting the view of the equestrian community in state-wide policy discussions regarding the environment; getting public recognition for the positive contribution to land management on the 527,000 acres in Maryland horse farms; linking technical and financial assistance resources to horse farm needs; staying ahead of the curve on land management technologies and regulations; and promoting the participation of horse farms in the Maryland Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP).

            Amy Burk, University of Maryland Equine Specialist and committee vice chair, distributed her latest paper on horse farm implementation of best management practices which highlights that horse farmers are very well-informed on good farm management but sometimes lacking in implementation of these sound practices.  She also invited participants to attend the Horse Pasture Management Training sessions on May 23 and September 19, 2013. 

Sagamore Farm owner Kevin Plank
            Gerald Talbert, the program director of FSCAP, shared the good news that Sagamore Farm, owned by Kevin Plank and managed by Tom Mullikin, and the Potomac Horse Center owned by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and managed by Rick Terselic, were certified.  This brings the number of certified horse farms up to seven with acreage of 898.3.  Again, congratulations to Persimmon Tree Farm and Carolyn Krome,  Edgewood Farm and Steve Darcey, Bloomsbury Forge and Karla Stoner, Graden/ Rover’s Content and  Milly Welsh, Wyndham Oaks and Lori Larson, Potomac Horse Center and the Maryland-National Capitol Park and Planning Commission,  and Sagamore Farm and Kevin Plank.   Gerald answered questions from several farm owners looking into getting certified. 

Sagamore Farm, owned by Maryland's own Kevin Plank, CEO of Underamour, joins the seven horse farms now certified under the Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP)
            Lori Larson, the owner of Wyndham Oaks Farm, talked about designing the farm from the beginning to meet high environmental standards.  Her experience with the FSCAP certification was that the process was simple as long as you had good farm management practices and kept your records up-to-date.  Lori noted that she had also installed solar panels on the indoor arena roof and built the barns with natural light and ventilation.  She is interested in exploring new technologies for on-farm energy generation using the horse manure from the 65 horses on the property.  Wyndham Oaks has its Farm Stewardship green sign prominently displayed at the farm entrance. 

            Gary Felton, bio-environmental engineering and water quality specialist from the University of Maryland, is an expert on composting.  He reviewed the simple steps to composting horse manure and highlighted its value as an organic soil enhancement.  He also raised the issue of action needed to stop the use of persistent herbicides on equine hays and grains as the herbicides do not break down in the composting process and can kill plants when the compost is applied.  The Maryland Horse Council will look into ways to help stop the use of these persistent herbicides.  Gary offered to provide additional information to anyone interested in composting horse manure. 

            Brenda Platt directs the Composting Makes $en$e Project at the Institute for Local Self Reliance and was representing the National Composting Association.  She raised the need to come up with modern composting regulations that will promote composting in a clear and transparent manner.  She noted that the state of Maryland is presently reviewing composting regulations and encouraged the horse community to get involved.  Brenda distributed a list of certified composting facilities that accept horse manure.  The list was provided by Craig Coker of Coker Composting and Consulting.  They are: Veteran’s Compost in Aberdeen, Maryland; Howard County Bur Environmental Services in Marriottsville, Maryland (for Howard County horse farms only); Peninsula Compost in Wilmington, Delaware; Royal Oak Farm in Evington, Virginia; Black Bear Composting in Crozet, Virginia; McGill Environmental Systems in Waverly, Virginia; Two Particular Acres in Royersford, Pennsylvania; Terra-Grow, Inc. in Terre Hill, Pennsylvania; and Barnside Mulch and Compost in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania.  She said that discussions are ongoing about building more composting facilities to manage the growing demand for composting in the region. 

John Blackburn, internationally-renowned stable architect, points out the natural lighting and ventilation features of Wyndham Oaks Farm which he designed.  The farm hosted the Winter Farm Stewardship Meeting.
            The meeting was topped off by a presentation from architect John Blackburn on his design of Wyndham Oaks.  John explained how he lays out stable operations to separate the spaces for people, cars and horses for safety.  He also described the thermodynamics of roof design to bring maximum ventilation to the stables to contribute to a healthy air supply for the horses.  His use of natural ventilation and natural light also cuts down on energy use.  He gave the group a walking tour of Wyndham Oaks stables and answered questions about his design work.

            A special thanks to Andy Bennett of The Piedmont Group.  Andy provided information on the insurance his company provides as well as some swag bag goodies to the group.  He also sponsored our meeting refreshments.  Thank you Andy!

            Thanks to everyone for coming out on a chilly February day for our Farm Stewardship winter meeting.  Stay tuned for information on the spring meeting.