The Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts (MASCD) has established the Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP) to acknowledge those farmers who are good stewards of their natural resources and to encourage and reward farmers to put more conservation best management practices (BMPs) on the land.
The project has established the Agricultural Conservation Stewardship Certification Standard (ACSCS), which measures compliance with state requirements for the farm’s nutrient management plan plus a level of conservation BMPs that prevent any significant sources of pollution from leaving the farm. FSCAP is also leading a smaller project, the FSCAP CNMP Project, in Somerset County to help develop Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMPs).
Through FSCAP, MASCD will establish a collaborative process to recognize good stewardship by farmers that will be acknowledged and respected by both the environmental and agricultural communities. By “setting the bar”, it will encourage other farmers to achieve certification and participate in new conservation programs that will put more conservation on the land and reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
When a farmer volunteers to be evaluated, FSCAP works through the local soil conservation district to visit the farm to review the existing nutrient management plan, soil conservation and water quality plan and other pertinent documents to determine if the farmer meets the Agricultural Conservation Stewardship Certification Standard (ACSCS).
The assessor and the district planner will walk the farm with the soil conservation and water quality plan to see if existing conservation practices have prevented any significant sources of pollution from leaving the farm. If additional conservation best management practices (BMPs) are needed, the farmer may elect to work with the district for technical assistance in determining, designing and installing the appropriate BMP to solve the problem, after which the ACSCS evaluation could continue. The farmer will also be provided with a Stewardship Notebook that contains background information and references on a variety of topics to improve farm management and conservation for the farmer to consider in the future.
As of December 15, 2015, Maryland has 119 certified farms on 32,107 acres. St. Mary’s has 7 certified farms on 565 acres.
- Even’ Star Organic Farm, Brett Grohsgal & Gretchen Bergmark, Organic Vegetables, 104 acres
- Old Sawmill Lane Farm, Donald & Donna Knott, Crops, 105 acres
- Shamrock Arabians, Barbara McDonald, Arabian Horses, 22 acres
- Moore or Less Farm, James & Elissa Moore, agri-tourism, alpacas, vegetables, 24 acres
- Sassafras Creek Farm, David Paulk, Organic Vegetables, 88 acres
- Mattaponi Farm, James Raley, Crops, 193 acres
- Roundabout Farm, Steve Sisterman, Horses, 29 acres