Information Session on Maryland’s Next Generation Farmland Acquisition Program

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The agricultural industry is known for having significant barriers to entry, namely the high cost of farmland and other capital needs, but a newly funded program is available to help bring about the next generation of farmers.

On Thursday, May 3rd, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) and the Maryland Agricultural & Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) will be hosting a regional information session on the Next Generation Farmland Acquisition Program. This exciting state-supported program – funded for the 2nd year in a row – is designed to help qualified young and beginning farmers secure long-term access to farmland, while also effectively preserving the agricultural land from future development.

This free event is open to the public and will be held at the Talbot Free Library from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm on May 3rd. The information session will include an overview of the new “Next Gen Program”, as well as information on how ESLC and MARBIDCO could help folks secure farmland or obtain additional financial resources to help build their agricultural businesses.

“This program really is on the cutting edge – it helps to both permanently preserve important natural resources, while also assisting qualified individuals with making their way into an industry with relatively high barriers to entry,” said ESLC Policy Manager, Josh Hastings.

The Next Gen Program, administered by MARBIDCO, has an application submission deadline of July 31, 2018 and application forms should be available by May 1st. Come hear how area organizations and agricultural lenders can help the next generation make their dream of farming into a reality. For questions, please contact Josh Hastings at jhastings@eslc.org or 410-251-5268.

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit land conservation organization committed to preserving and sustaining the vibrant communities of the Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them. More at www.eslc.org.

Culture, Climate, and Change: How Social Factors Shape the Climate Dialogue

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The Eastern Shore remains the third most susceptible region to the effects of sea level rise in the entire nation. With this in mind, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy is following up their sold-out 2017 Unsinkable Shore conference with Culture, Climate, and Change: How social factors shape the climate dialogue, which will be held at Washington College on April 21, 2018 from 9am to 1pm. The event is sponsored in part by the College’s Center for Environment & Society.

“This conference promises to have participants walking away with the knowledge to speak effectively, accurately, and confidently about climate change,” says ESLC Communications Manager David Ferraris.

Attendees should anticipate an in-depth exploration of the social factors that influence opinions, beliefs, and perceptions of climate change on the Shore. Participants will gain an appreciation for how our region’s rich cultural landscape shapes the dialogue – or lack thereof – about how we respond to climate risks.

The $20 admission fee includes a continental breakfast, and for the first 70 registrants, a complimentary copy of “How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate” by Andrew Hoffman, a professor of business and sustainability at the University of Michigan. Registration is available online at www.eslc.org/events.

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit land conservation organization committed to preserving and sustaining the vibrant communities of the Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them. More at www.eslc.org.

ESLC Offers New Culture, Climate, and Change Conference April 21

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The Eastern Shore remains the third most susceptible region to the effects of sea level rise in the entire nation. With this in mind, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy is following up their sold-out 2017 Unsinkable Shore conference with Culture, Climate, and Change: How social factors shape the climate dialogue, which will be held at Washington College on April 21, 2018 from 9am to 1pm. The event is sponsored in part by the College’s Center for Environment & Society.

”This conference promises to have participants walking away with the knowledge to speak effectively, accurately, and
confidently about climate change,” says ESLC Communications Manager David Ferraris.

Attendees should anticipate an in-depth exploration of the social factors that influence opinions, beliefs, and perceptions of climate change on the Shore. Participants will gain an appreciation for how our region’s rich cultural landscape shapes the dialogue – or lack thereof— about how we respond to climate risks.

The $20 admission fee includes a continental breakfast, and for the first 70 registrants, a complimentary copy of “How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate” by Andrew Hoffman, a professor of business and sustainability at the University of Michigan.

Registration is available online at www.eslc.org/events.

 

Cambridge Residents Invited to Kick-Off Event for Cannery Park

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The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) and its project partners will host two community design charrettes, as well as a project kick-off event, to celebrate and gather community input for Cannery Park. The park, which will be located adjacent to the former Phillips Packing Co.’s last remaining building (soon to be known as The Packing House), is the culmination of a planning and funds-seeking process that has been in the works for approximately seven years.

The media kick-off event will happen at 11am on Tuesday, January 23rd at 411 Dorchester Avenue. All residents, local businesses, and members of the media are encouraged to attend to find out more about the future park, and about Parker Rodriguez – the Alexandria, VA-based landscape architecture firm that has been selected to design and create Cannery Park.

The two community design charrettes will be open to the public in an effort to capture feedback and input on the design of Cannery Park’s master plan, as well as to provide updates on Cambridge’s newest public space. The first charrette will be held from 6:30 to 7:30pm on Tuesday, January 23rd at the Cambridge Empowerment Center, located at 615 B Pine Street. The second charrette will be held at 6:30pm on Thursday, January 25th at the Public Safety Building, located at 8 Washington Street.

Along with ESLC staff, members from the City of Cambridge, Dorchester County, Cross Street Partners, and Parker Rodriguez will be in attendance during all of the week’s events. The restoration of Cambridge Creek, along with the removal of an inactive railroad line so as to create a rail trail connecting the park to downtown, will be among the first action items in the creation of the new park.

Parker Rodriguez was founded in 1996 as a full service land planning, landscape architecture, and urban design firm serving public and private clients across the U.S. The firm has a strong record of working in close collaboration with public planners, citizens, architects, and artists during its projects, which has led to landscape design that is imaginative, sensitive to the community, and authentic to place – all reasons that the firm was selected from the many who submitted proposals. The firm is also known to be deeply informed by principles of sustainability, believing that good design and ecological effectiveness are not mutually exclusive.

For more information about the media event on January 23rd, please contact ESLC’s Communication Manager David Ferraris at dferraris@eslc.org or 410.690.4603 x165. For questions regarding the community design charrettes, please contact ESLC’s Community Projects Manager Elizabeth Carter at ecarter@eslc.org or 410.690.4603 x152.

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit land conservation organization committed to preserving and sustaining the vibrant communities of the Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them. More at www.eslc.org.

Really Excellent: Fry Family Permanently Protects Kent County Dairy Farm

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Ed and Marian Fry and their son Matt, and his wife Meg, are again expanding operations on their dairy farm, 54 years after Ed’s father first established the farm in Kent County. The expansion is made possible with an easement by Eastern Shore Land Conservancy and Maryland Environmental Trust.

Putting land under easement fulfilled a couple objectives for the family, said Matt. The farming business and the land were owned by different entities. A corporation owns the business, and a limited partnership consisting of extended family members not involved in the business owned the land.

The Fry Family

The Fry Family

Selling a scenic conservation easement on the farm allowed Matt and Meg buy the land. It also helped meet the vision his grandfather would have laid out for the land – that it stay a working farm.

In the 1960s, Matt’s grandfather, Ed’s father, moved away from his dairy farm in Montgomery County and started his farm in Kent County. Montgomery County was growing, and he knew he would not be able to farm the way he wanted to for very long.

The sale was satisfying for extended family members, as well. Although they did not want to encumber the farm to pay for major building improvements for the farming operation, they did want farming to continue on the land in the manner their grandfather intended. The easement allowed them to get their value from the property and see the farm remain profitable.

“This is what we call the home farm here,” Marian said of the dairy and organic grain operation outside of Chestertown.

Matt and Meg, both Virginia Tech graduates, settled in Kent County to farm. Matt has been farming with his parents since 2007. He now manages the dairy herd and also participates in management decisions for the larger farm.

The Frys recently expanded the dairy herd. Now, 470 cows are milked three times a day. New construction and expansion of buildings helped modernize operations and increase capacity.

“The easement was the keystone in allowing that to happen,” said Ed Fry.

This multigenerational, diversified business includes three contiguous Kent County farms totaling 775 acres. Of that, 565 acres are protected in perpetuity. An organic alfalfa, hay, corn and soybean operation accounts for about 600 acres. They also raise conventional crops to feed the dairy herd, which is not organic.

They got into organic grain about 18 years ago when Ed Fry learned Horizon organic dairy bought a farm he originally built in 1980. Their goal, he said, was to have a 500-head organic farm in Kennedyville. Ed Fry saw an opportunity. Horizon was a customer for many years, although they are not now.

Kent-FryFamPartnership-BL20140307-043“Both conventional farming and organic farming have advantages,” Marian said. Conventional, no-till farming is good for the bay because it reduces runoff, but organic farming requires less chemical treatment. Marian said the family often combines techniques as the land requires, and that helps them take advantage of the benefits of both systems.

“We want our lands to be sustainable, because if not they are not going to have farming on our open land in perpetuity,” said Ed Fry. “And the farm has to be sustainable because if the farmer is not sustainable, then the land won’t be sustainable either.”

Marian said it’s easy for people to become polarized on farming issues when they are several generations removed from farming. They can forget the purpose is to grow food.

“We are so fortunate in the country to have plenty of food and not to have famine like other countries know,” she said. We have sustainability in every region of the country, so we are never relying on other countries.

Easements help ensure the opportunity to practice farming remains on the Delmarva Peninsula, she said.

This easement was made possible with federal funds to preserve properties along the Chesapeake Country National Scenic Byway. Former Congressman Wayne T. Gilchrest (now Director of ESLC’s Sassafras Environmental Education Center) worked hard while he was in office to provide this funding. It is the sixth easement along the byway, which includes portions of state routes 213 and 20 in Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne’s counties.

Cross Street Partners to help with Eastern Shore Conservation Center

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Eastern Shore Land Conservancy contracted with Cross Street Partners, a real estate consulting company that counts among its projects Baltimore’s Food Hub, Harbor East and Belvedere Square, for assistance with the Eastern Shore Conservation Center.

The company will provide financial advisory services, including polishing the project’s budget as ESLC prepares to close on a tax credit, representing ESLC as it pursues federal historic tax credits, and help with post-closing accounting needs.

“I have seen the Baltimore work of Bill Struever and Cross Street Partners and it is amazing,” said ESLC Executive Director Rob Etgen. “They take beat up historic industrial buildings and turn them into vibrant, stimulating hubs of economic and community activities – and always with a focus on local food and sustainability. Cross Street Partners is an ideal part of our team for revitalization of the McCord and Brick Row buildings into the Eastern Shore Conservation Center.”

ESLC officially broke ground Friday, July 18, on the Eastern Shore Conservation Center. The design and renovation of the former McCord and Brick Row buildings will cost about $7.6 million. To date, ESLC has raised $5 million.

The LEED-certified campus will be home to ESLC headquarters, as well as other conservation and community-centered nonprofits. A café, a courtyard open to the public, and meeting rooms will make this a community conservation center.

The dilapidated and abandoned McCord building and neighboring Brick Row, which was damaged by fire, will become a place for nonprofit collaboration and will revitalize a forgotten section of South Washington Street.

Other than financial advisory services, Cross Street Partners offers property and asset management, master planning and development service, construction management and general contracting, retail merchandising strategies, and marketing services.

The firm also served as the owner’s representative for the Under Armour Headquarters/Visitors Center and Skywalk in Locust Point and provided development, retail merchandising strategy, and marketing services for University of Maryland BioPark in Baltimore.

Leigh Family Preserves a Piece of Betterton

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BETTERTON — Rob Leigh thinks often about his grandmother, Lillie Leigh, and the walks they took together when he was a child.d

They would walk from the Leigh house along the beach in one direction and return through the woods.

“I think about that fairly often – the walks we used to have and the help grandparents can be to their grandchildren,” Rob Leigh said.

Lillie Leigh would tell her grandchildren, “You’re worth a waterfront farm.”

With that phrase, he said, Lillie Leigh put the conservation bug in the ear of her grandchildren. They put value in that property, but Rob Leigh never dreamed he would own it. Years later, his sister would introduce him to his future wife, Linda, on that beach.

In the early 1970s, a developer asked Betterton to annex the farm property adjacent to the Leigh family home. Rob and Linda Leigh opposed the development, which would have included a golf course and about 200 houses.

eThe development never came to fruition, and the farm was auctioned in 1997. Rob and Linda Leigh bought the property with the encouragement of the extended Leigh family, in the hopes of preventing another developer from building something not in line with the Leigh’s vision of Betterton.

The Leighs immediately evaluated the property, which has been farmed since the 17th century, Rob Leigh said. They worked with Kent County Soil Conservation and the Department of Natural Resources. They put in five waterways to help control erosion, restored a one-acre pond, planted about 1,800 trees to help absorb runoff, and planted some warm season grasses.

In December, the Leighs placed on the property a conservation easement held by Eastern Shore Land Conservancy and Maryland Environmental Trust.

“We go up there as a family, and we camp on the farm,” Rob Leigh said. “We do a lot of hiking and fishing, and it keeps us working hard, and it keeps us together.”

He said the property keeps the family calm and helps them work together to accomplish objectives. He will never forget cleaning up after Hurricane Isabel and everyone returning home happy and close to one another.

“We’re very proud to not only own but know that the property will stay just in family oversight or use, but others can know and experience the beauty of a standing woods that provides beautiful views of the Chesapeake Bay waterfront” Leigh said.

Rob Leigh said the property has been important to his entire family, including his late grandparents, his late father John Leigh; his late brother John Scott Leigh Jr.; his sister, Harriet Russell; his wife, Linda; and their children Thomas Howard Leigh and Jeffrey Scott Leigh.

“We are thrilled that this easement allows us to protect not only the important forest habitat and productive ag lands, but that it also helps to protect the federally threatened Puritan tiger beetle,” said Executive Director Rob Etgen. “We are grateful to the Leigh family for their excellent stewardship of this land and for their foresight to protect it.”

The property consists of 22 acres of agricultural land, 86 acres of woods, three acres of meadow, and one acre of pond. The Sassafras River shoreline provides habitat for the tiger beetle, and the forest offers habitat for nesting birds, populations of which are declining in Maryland.

Bald eagles, osprey and deer all are found on the property, as well as the endangered Puritan Tiger Beetle.

Judge Rules in Favor of Bay Cleanup

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(Press Release)

SUMMARY:

A Federal Court has affirmed that the pollution limits that EPA established in December 2010 for the Chesapeake Bay are within the Agency’s purview and based on sound science and that the Farm Bureau and Homebuilders had ample time to review and comment on the proposed limits. In terms of the Chesapeake Bay, there could be no better outcome. Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and our other partners, respectfully salute the thoughtful legal decision making by Judge Sylvia H. Rambo, the presiding federal judge in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. 

BACKGROUND:

Less than two weeks after EPA established pollution limits for the Bay, as required by the Clean Water Act for any body of water not meeting specific water quality standards, The American Farm Bureau Federation and the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau filed a complaint in federal court to throw out the limits – known legally in the Clean Water Act as a Total Maximum Daily Load or TMDL. Not long after the original complaint was filed, the two initiating groups were joined by the National Association of Home Builders, the National Chicken Council, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Turkey Federation, The Fertilizer Institute, and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.

Five months after the original complaint was filed, a motion to intervene in the case in support of EPA and, specifically, the pollution limits, was filed by six organizations: Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Citizen’s for Pennsylvania’s Future, Defenders of Wildlife, Jefferson County (WV) Public Service District, and the National Wildlife Federation. The intervenors were represented by Jon Mueller, chief counsel of CBF. We filed a response to the Farm Bureau’s and Homebuilder’s motions and offered oral arguments in October 2011.

 

GENERAL FINDINGS:

In the case, known as American Farm Bureau et al v. EPA, the plaintiffs made three complaints: (1) that the pollution limits or TMDL exceeded EPA’s authority, (2) that they were based on faulty science, and (3) that the plaintiff did not have adequate time to participate in the comment process. Judge Rambo’s decision clearly rejected all three of the complaints. Her ruling removed any ambiguity and clarified what EPA and the states have to do.  Now the six states in the Bay watershed and the District of Columbia have the clear direction that they should continue –even accelerate – the specific plans to meet the pollution limits by 2025 that they have begun to implement in their jurisdictions.

In a thorough and meticulous 99 page opinion, the Court has affirmed that pollution limits that EPA established in 2010 are within the Agency’s authorities and based on sound science. The decision further affirmed that the litigants had ample time to review and comment. Judge Rambo’s ruling repeatedly noted the cooperative nature of the Blueprint, clarifying that EPA simply allocated pollution limits, while the states determined how best to achieve those limits.

 

Midshore Riverkeeper’s Director, Tim Junkin comments:  We are grateful for the fine work of our counsel, Jon Mueller, in representing the intervening parties, and we are very pleased with this successful outcome.  But now we must re-double our efforts toward meeting the pollution reduction goals that have been set, and we must do so with renewed vigor and commitment.  We call on the agriculture lobby and other plaintiffs to re-direct their resources toward this positive goal.  We must all recognize the urgency of the threats that confront us. The time is now if we are to effectively restore our grand rivers and Bay.

Save the Date: ESLC Annual Gala Set for October 26

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Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s annual gala, Returns to the Land, will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at the dazzling Riveredge Farm in Cecil County.

Riveredge Farm, a 531-acre property preserved with a conservation easement held by ESLC, is owned by John and Leslie Malone. John Malone, chairman of Liberty media and longtime telecommunications executive, owns 2.2 million acres in the United States, more than any other person.

The property is home to Hassler Dressage and features a stunning European-style lodge house and an indoor dressage arena.

Cayots Corner near Chesapeake City, the heart of Cecil County horse country, is home to the largest area of contiguous, privately owned, preserved property on the Mid-Shore, with more than 3,500 acres under easement. Riveredge is surrounded by farms famed for breeding a Kentucky Derby winner and Olympic dressage contenders.

The gala will feature hors d’oeuvres by The Grille at Back Creek and cocktails, live music by acoustic guitarist Pres Harding, and a dressage demonstration led by Suzanne Hassler. The demonstration will give guests, viewing from inside the entertainment lodge, a glimpse into the Olympic sport of dressage.

A silent and live auction, featuring celebrity auctioneer Stephen Isaacson, will include four box seats to an Orioles game, four 50-yard-line tickets to the Baltimore Ravens, a guided canoe paddle on the Sassafras with Wayne Gilchrest, weekend and week-long trips, an airplane ride, golf packages, a spring migration bird banding expedition, a two-hour combine ride on an Eastern Shore farm, artwork by acclaimed Chesapeake artist Marc Castelli, hunting expeditions, and more.

Proceeds from this event benefit Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. ESLC has saved nearly 54,000 acres on Maryland’s Eastern Shore since 1990. The organization helps save land and promotes sound land use planning from the C&O Canal in Cecil County to the Nanticoke River in Dorchester County. ESLC is committed to preserving and sustaining the vibrant communities of the Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them.

ESLC also is working to create the Eastern Shore Conservation Center in the former McCord Laundry building and the neighboring Brick Row, in downtown Easton. The facility would create a working home for our employees and for other organizations and businesses. This hub of activity will spark collaboration and innovation around conservation at a new scale for the Eastern Shore.