Sign-up period for Maryland’s small acreage cover crop program now open

The Maryland Department of Agriculture announced that the sign-up period for its Small Acreage Cover Crop Program is open now through May 26. Now in its second year, the program provides grants to help small farms and urban growers plant cover crops on their production areas to build healthy soils, improve crop yields, protect local water quality, improve climate resilience and provide other environmental benefits.

“Small-scale and urban farmers play a major role in growing fresh, healthy food for local communities,” said Maryland Department Agriculture Secretary Kevin A. Atticks. “The Department is excited to provide these essential growers with conservation grants that promote healthy farming practices that support local food production. I encourage all eligible growers to apply for our small farm cover crop grants during the open enrollment period.”

The Small Acreage Cover Crop Program is for urban and small-scale producers who do not qualify for traditional cover crop programs. New this year, operations that plant less than ten acres of qualifying cover crops—including cereal grains or cover crop seed mixes—can apply for grants. Financial assistance for this program is capped at $1,500 per grower, per year.

Program highlights include:

• Maximum payment per grower is $1,500 per year
•Growers will be reimbursed based on paid receipts • Eligible species include single cereal grains or cover crop seed mixes
• Cover crops may be planted in open plots/fields, raised beds, or a high tunnel following the harvest of a production crop (vegetables, herbs, flowers, corn, sorghum, soybeans, hemp, millet, or tobacco)
• Growers should follow cover crop planting recommendations made by the seed manufacturer or the University of Maryland Extension for eligible species.

Urban and small-scale producers may download grant applications on the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s website. Applications must be postmarked by May 26, for consideration in this year’s program.

The Small Acreage Cover Crop Program is funded by the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund and managed by the department’s Small Farm and Urban Agriculture Program. Growers who want to apply for these small acreage cover crop grants should contact Bill Tharpe, Program Administrator for the Small Farm & Urban Agriculture Program at [email protected] or 410-841-5869.