Gov. Larry Hogan announced the launch of a Small Acreage Cover Crop Program to support small farm producers and urban agriculture. The pilot program is operated by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and aimed at helping historically underserved farmers and communities build healthy soils, increase yields, sequester carbon and improve local water quality. Financial assistance for this program is capped at $1,000 per grower, per year.

The goal of the program is to increase community access to healthy foods by helping farmers adopt environmentally sound practices. Small-scale producers who may not qualify for traditional cover crop programs are encouraged to apply for these grants.

The program is the first in a series of statewide financial assistance programs to be introduced by MDA’s new Small Farm and Urban Agriculture Program. It will provide needed financial and technical assistance to support small-scale farms located in urban, peri-urban, rural and suburban areas. Highlights include:
● Urban agricultural growers and small farmers who plant five or fewer acres of a cover crop may apply for cover crop grants.
● Eligible species to be planted include cover crop seed mixes or single cereal grains.
● Cover crops may be planted in open plots, raised beds, or a high tunnel following the harvest of a production crop (vegetables, herbs, flowers, sorghum, soybeans, hemp, millet, or tobacco).
● Growers should plant fall cover crops following seed company recommendations, but later than Nov. 30.
● Growers will be reimbursed based on paid receipts with a maximum payment of up to $1,000 per growing season.

The program is funded by the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund and managed by MDA’s Conservation Grants Program. To apply, contact Bill Tharpe at 410-841-5869 and [email protected].