CAMBRIDGE — Elected officials and agriculture specialists gathered Aug. 26 for a Legislative Farm Tour, organized by the Maryland and Dorchester Farm Bureau. “It’s a good informational tour for our legislators,” Dorchester Farm Bureau Vice President Chip Fleming said.
Agriculture is the largest industry in Maryland.
Many farms, including ones on the Eastern Shore, are finding new ways to compete in the market, while using environmentally friendly practices.
The tour began with breakfast provided by the 4-H Leprechauns at Maple Breeze Poultry Farms near Hurlock, followed by a stop at Mr. Fleming’s Breckenridge Farms. The group moved on to John Luthy’s operation south of Cambridge and ended at Layton’s Chance Winery near Vienna, where lunch was served. These farms shared information on poultry litter disposal, CAFO, air quality, crop protectants, deer damage, organic vs. non-organic farming, and miscanthus grass litter production.
Among the officials present were County Council Member Lenny Pfeffer (District 4), Delegate Johnny Mautz (R-37B) and State Senator Addie Eckardt (R-37).
Maple Breeze Poultry Farm
A family farm established in Hurlock in 1992, in 2001 Maple Breeze added a poultry operation. Currently, they raise a nine-week roaster, producing 133,800 birds at a time, with a total production of almost 500,000 pounds per year.
This farm is operated and owned by Mary Lou Brown and her daughter Ashley. Their renewable energy source through solar panels generate 90 percent of their electricity. Maple Breeze’s poultry operation has no runoff, information from the Farm Bureau said.
Mr. Fleming is a third-generation farmer, and lifelong resident of Dorchester County. In 2017, he decided to diversity his farming business by taking the leap from conventional to organic farming.
Luthy Farms, LLC
Many local residents have spotted a new sight on farms, and might have wondered just what the new crop is — 8-10 foot stalks of what looks like giant blades of grass filling entire fields.
Turns out, that’s what it is — giant blades of grass.
Luthy Farms, in collaboration with AGrow Tech, LLC has established 1,800 acres of Freedom Giant Miscanthus production to supply bedding to the poultry industry.
“Giant Miscanthus is a sterile, C4, warm-season, perennial grass that produces high yields per acre,” the statement said. “Production requires no inputs following establishment year, sequesters significant amounts of carbon annually and provides note-worthy nutrient runoff and sediment-loss reduction. This production offers a renewable and sustainable solution, and is providing meaningful change to the Eastern Shore today.”
Layton’s Chance Vineyard & Winery
Lazy Day Farms in Vienna has been owned and operated by the Layton Family since 1948. For most of that time, they have grown corn, soybeans and wheat.
In 2007, they added grapes to their operation, and in 2010 opened Layton’s Chance Vineyard & Winery. The family now focuses full time on the grapes and wine.
They currently manage 14 acres of grapes of produce more than 20 varieties of wine on site. The winery is owned and operated by Joe Layton Jr., Laura Layton, General Manager Jennifer Layton and Winemaker William Layton.