January 2017

Twenty-three counties certified!

MASCD is proud to announce that FSCAP now has at least one certified farm in each of Maryland’s 23 counties. Established in 2010 by the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts in partnership with Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Maryland Farm Bureau, Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resource Conservation Service, this unique program recognizes and certifies farmers who have demonstrated a superior level of stewardship. Farmers must demonstrate that they are in full compliance with their nutrient management plan and are addressing all resource concerns on their owned and rented land.

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MDA Assistant Secretary Hans Schmidt (left), and State Conservationist, Dr. Terron Hillsman (right) with Allegany county stewards Susan, Nathan, and David Trail.

David and Susan Trail of Glendale Farm completed the statewide certification, becoming the first FSCAP certified farm in Allegany County. The cow-calf operation features many best management practices, including the installation of a waste treatment lagoon, over 15,000 feet of stream and pasture fencing, a 4.3 acre riparian forest buffer, 73.2 acres of prescribed grazing, 3 spring developments, and a 4.3 acre upland wildlife management area, just to mention a few. The efforts made by the Trails over the years earned them recognition by the Allegany Soil Conservation District as Cooperator of the Year in both 1984 and 2016. Full story

October 2016

Over 50,000 acreas certified!

The Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP) has certified over 50,000 acres throughout the state. Currently, there are 138 certified farms in 22 counties, including dairy, equine, poultry, vineyards, vegetable, grain, and orchards, among others. Washington County leads the state in the number of farms enrolled with over 30 certified farms. 

Lewis McDonald, of Kent County, was the most recent steward to be recognized. His addition of 3,400 acres of cropland brought the total amount of acres enrolled in the program to 50,747.53. He has incorporated many best management practices on his farm including: crop rotation and residue management, ponds, diversions, cover crops, riparian buffers and filter strips, grade stabilization structures, and wildlife management areas.  For full story, click Press Release.

100th Steward Recognized

 

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The 100th Maryland farm certified for achieving the highest level of environmental stewardship was recognized May 6, 2015 at a ceremony outside Smithsburg, Md.

Gardenhour Orchards, operated by Bill Gardenhour and his family, received the Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP) certificate and sign from the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts, which established FSCAP in cooperation with core agricultural and environmental partners, to recognize farmers who are good stewards of their natural resources and to encourage farmers to put additional best management practices (BMPs) on their land. The Gardenhours are the fourth generation to operate the orchard, which encompasses 105 acres within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In their market and pick-your-own orchards and fields, they offer apples, peaches, corn, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. more

Maryland Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program

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.

Agricultural Conservation Stewardship Certification Standard

The Agricultural Conservation Stewardship Certification Standard (ACSCS) is a measure of good conservation stewardship. The certification project provides recognition for a farmer's accomplishment in sustainable management of his natural resources and will serve as a source of pride for himself and the agricultural community. It combines a current implemented nutrient management plan that meets state requirements and a soil conservation and water quality plan that prevents any significant sources of pollution from leaving the farm. MASCD has four core partners in planning and supporting FSCAP: the Maryland Farm Bureau; the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; the Maryland Department of Agriculture; and, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. Representatives of the core partners formed a FSCAP Work Group and drafted project documents and procedures.

Certified Farmers:

Brochures:

Core Partners:

Funding Sources:

How do I get involved?

The best way is to email the FSCAP Project Leader, Gerald Talbert.