SMADC Farm Grants
SMADC has two grant programs geared specifically to farms (see below). In addition, SMADC makes regional grant funds available for industry research and development, rental equipment for farmers in the region, farmers' market support and to fund various projects.
The Southern Maryland Farm Viability Enhancement Program: The Farm Viability Grants are intended to foster ways to increase the income and sustainability of area farms, to encourage the establishment of new farms and to support those farmers transitioning from tobacco into other farm ventures like agritourism or pick-your-own sites. Grant amounts vary from $5,000 to $40,000, depending on the needs of the specific farm. The farmer must match the grant and agree to place the farm into an agricultural use covenant for five to ten years, based upon the grant amount. This grant program has become a model for a similar statewide program.
- Past grants have been awarded to help rebuild farms damaged by a tornado, to open a pick-your-own farm, to build a kitchen for on-farm processing, to establish a state-of-the art hydroponic system, to improve irrigation, to create several agritourism sites and to build an on-farm butcher shop.
- Since inception of this program, 29 farms (24 grants awarded in addition to five business plans developed) have been impacted and over 3,800 acres now have an agricultural covenant.
- The SMFVEP has allowed farms to take advantage of emerging trends such as agritourism, and to the emerging wine and meat industries now developing in Southern Maryland.
Growing Grapes for Wine in Southern Maryland: In 2006, SMADC instituted The Growing Grapes for Wine initiative, the first of its kind in Maryland. For those in the program, SMADC covers 50 percent of the cost of vines. SMADC, in collaboration with Maryland Cooperative Extension, provides mandatory training for the grant recipients on all aspects of grape production, including hands-on demonstrations at an Upper Marlboro research site. Maryland Cooperative Extension also provides expertise and guidance through individual farm site visits. Recipients are also required to join the Maryland Grape Growers Association or the Maryland Wineries Association. SMADC's grape grant program has become a model for a similar statewide program offered by the State of Maryland.
Grape Grant highlights:
- Due to research and grant funds from SMADC’s wine grape program, the number of new acres in wine grapes has grown exponentially from 12 acres in 2002 to 53 acres in 2012, and from two wineries to 12 wineries, with an additional five wineries expected by 2014. The regional returns on SMADC’s investments in the wine industry are estimated at $1.350 million (based on a proportion of Maryland sales)
Regional Grants. Initiated in 2010, these grants are awarded to partners throughout the five Southern Maryland counties for projects deemed to have structural longevity and a lasting impact on regional farming community.
Regional Grant highlights:
- In 2010-2012, SMADC awarded regional grants to partners (Farm Bureaus, Soil Conservation Districts, schools, local economic development and others) throughout the five Southern Maryland counties targeting farmers’ market enhancements, agricultural education projects for youth and new or beginning farmers, increased access to fresh food in urban communities and continued research on wine grape varietals suitable for production in Southern Maryland.
Read more about these SMADC programs: