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Extending Knowledge, Changing Lives!

December 2020! The official e-newsletter for University of Maryland Eastern Shore Extension.

Greetings UMES Extension friends!

From our Extension educators, specialists and myself, please accept this short, but sincere, note to wish every one of you and yours a very Happy Holiday Season!

The unprecedented challenges we each faced in 2020 made the blessings even more evident during our Thanksgiving celebrations, however differently we gathered this year.

I can speak for the Extension team when I say the support we received from family, friends and colleagues to help navigate during the past nine months has been invaluable.   Your kindness and patience as UMES Extension transitioned to virtual training to accommodate your needs was key to our success. I am particularly appreciative of your encouragement for the activities the dedicated UMES Extension educators and specialists conducted during this trying period.

I hope you have the opportunity to slow down during this holiday season to enjoy being with those, probably in limited numbers, who are important to you. 

In spite of the pandemic, I encourage you to look forward with hope and energy to 2021.  The UMES Extension team is currently evaluating programs and planning activities for the coming year.  Keep us in mind and don’t hesitate to reach out if you need assistance.

God bless you and please stay safe!  Remember…wear your mask, keep the appropriate distance and wash your hands.

Nelson Escobar, Ph.D.
Associate Administrator
UMES Extension
Black farmers embrace African practices as empowering
Many turn to sustainable, methods with roots in their cultural heritage

Article and video by Jeremy Cox, Chesapeake Bay Journal, Oct. 20, 2020
Photos by Dave Harp, Chesapeake Bay Journal
Note: Thelonius Cook is new to UMES Extension as an information and communications technology associate

At Thelonius Cook's farm, roots aren't just connected to crops and orchards.  They're also connected to history.

Cook uses certain plants to attract pests and keep them away from his crops.  He also avoids tilling the soil and sows "cover crops" in the fall to reinvigorate fields--all techniques drawn from his African ancestors.  In such ways, Cook said he is honoring his heritage while protecting the environment.
Click to view Bay Journal's interview with UMES Extension's Thelonius Cook.
Cook just joined the team as an information/communications technology associate.

Area farmers can still participate in free MyFaRM initiative 

Local farmers can still take advantage of UMES Extension’s MyFaRM initiative, a free program consisting of a series of classes covering the aspects of farm risk management. 

The first series focusing on financial risk began December 8 with an in-person socially distanced class on the main campus.  It continues on December 15 and 22, both from 3-6 p.m. in the Richard A. Henson Center.  Financial risk is followed by legal risk classes on January 7 and 21 and a human risk class on February 9; all are from 3-6 p.m. in the Henson Center.

The spring line-up starts on March 8 at the Henson Center with the first of two production risk classes and continues on April 7 on the UMES Education and Demonstration Farm, both are from 9 a.m. to noon.  Marketing risk is the final series meeting on May 11 from 3-6 in the Henson Center and in June on a date to be determined to coincide with UMES Extension's Small Farm Marketing Bus Tour.



Karki joins UMES Extension in dual role
A native of Kathmandu, Nepal, nested high in the Himalayas at the foot of Mount Everest’s soaring 29,029-foot summit, Dr. Lila B. Karki has come to Princess Anne’s University of Maryland Eastern Shore, just 16.4 feet above sea level. His over 30-year career in agriculture has taken him from Nepal to India, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Australia, the Philippines, Germany and finally to the Southeast United States.

Karki joins UMES in a dual role.  He will lend his expertise to both UMES Extension and to the Department of Agriculture, Food, and Resource Sciences.  As a program evaluations specialist for UMES Extension, he will provide leadership and support for extension program planning, evaluation and reporting.  His mission in this post is to support, strengthen and participate in county-based extension programs and to develop an extramurally funded extension and applied research program. 

Small Farm Conference carries on despite COVID-19 

The theme from the 17th annual Small Farm Conference sums it up, “Remaining Resilient and Innovative.”  Organizers rose to the pandemic-era challenge of shifting to a hybrid format per responses from a pre-event survey to provide an experience that met the needs of both in-person and virtual attendees.

“The uncertainty of the times combined with the many considerations on how to ensure the safety of attendees led to changes that we certainly never anticipated,” said Berran Rogers, coordinator of UMES Extension’s Small Farm Program and chair of the conference.  “Nonetheless, with the efforts of everyone involved, it was impressive to see how everything came together for the benefit of our stakeholders.”


Read More>

Winter presentations address the legal side of direct marketing and offer free guidebook.

Over the past five years, and most recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, agricultural direct marketing has seen a resurgence in popularity as customers seek out more locally produced fresh foods. According to the 2017 USDA Ag Census, the value of food sold directly from Maryland farms to consumers doubled from $28 million in 2012 to $54 million in 2017.

Direct marketing can provide many advantages to farm operators but will likely also present legal challenges. Legal specialists at the Agriculture Law Education Initiative developed the Legal Guide to Direct Farm Marketing for Maryland Produce Growers to assist growers who are beginning, pivoting to or expanding direct marketing activities to understand their compliance requirements and potential liability exposure.

Register to attend one of several meetings, conferences and webinars this winter to receive a free copy.

Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference
moved to virtual format due to pandemic
The annual Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference moved its 2020 edition to a free series of online webinars held on three consecutive Mondays last month due to the pandemic.  Nearly 300 people registered for the virtual event, including university faculty and staff, agricultural service providers, representatives from environmental organizations, state officials, attorneys and farmers.
“We were glad that we were still able to provide an engaging and informative conference again this year in spite of several hurdles,” said Nicole Cook, environmental and agricultural faculty legal specialist with UMES Extension.  “The unwelcomed shift to having an entirely virtual conference actually has made us rethink how we might offer the conference in the future to make it accessible to more people and to provide increased opportunities for having a broader range of presenters.”
This year, she said, participants hailed from 15 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago.  Eighty-eight percent of those who completed an exit survey rated the conference good to excellent and felt it served its purpose of increasing their knowledge of environmental and/or agricultural legal issues.
Hemp Conference provides latest industry updates
UMES’ second annual Industrial Hemp Conference took place virtually on November 5 due to COVID-19 restrictions.   More than 70 participants registered for the online event.

“Industrial hemp has gained interest as a cash crop on the Eastern Shore for fiber, seed and cannabinoid production,” said Dr. Sadanand Dhekney, associate professor of genetics and plant breeding in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences.  “UMES has been coordinating a pilot program for the past two years under the 2014 USDA Farm Bill and has partnered with several hemp growers statewide.”
Diamond Nwaeze has joined the UMES Extension team as a 4-H STEM educator for the lower Eastern Shore.  A native of Silver Spring, Maryland, she is no stranger to the university. 

Nwaeze is a UMES alum graduating in 2017 with a bachelor’s in biology.  During her undergraduate experience, she worked as a general research assistant in Dr. Victoria Volkis’ lab studying various applications and the phytochemical content of Aronia melanocarpa.

“I’ve always been interested in human biology and natural processes, but after my mother passed away from breast cancer in 2016, I wanted to study preventative health via horticulture and nutrition,” Nwaeze said.

In addition to biology, her interests also lie in education, nutrition and public health.

“I’m looking forward to guiding youth in learning new ways to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics along with agriculture, while also preparing them for higher learning by assisting them in becoming well-rounded students,” Nwaeze said.
Coops to Co-ops is closed for the season! 
Please look for re-opening information in the spring!
For more information, contact Gail Taylor at
Learn more
Sponsor & Exhibitor Opportunities

Upcoming Events

MyFaRM  (Mastering Farm Risk Management) Classes

Financial Risk Series
December 15 and 22, 2020, 3-6 p.m., Richard A. Henson Center

Legal Risk Series
January 7 and 21, 2021, 3-6 p.m., Richard A. Henson Center

Human Risk Class
February 9, 2021, 3-6 p.m., Richard A. Henson Center

Production Risk Series
March 8, 2021, 9-noon, Richard A. Henson Center
April 7, 2021, 9-noon, UMES Education and Demonstration Farm

Marketing Risk Series
May 11, 2021, 3-6 p.m., Richard A. Henson Center
June 2021, TBD, UMES Small Farm Marketing Bus Tour

Creative Science by UMES Extension 4-H STEM and InTheArtRoom

January, 13 and 27, 6-8 p.m., virtual
February 10 and 24, 6-8 p.m., virtual
March 10, 6-8 p.m., virtual

UMES Extension in the News

Maryland Farmers Still Learning About Hemp Production
Lancaster Farming, Noveber 27, 2020

COVID-19 forced a pivot in Mid-Atlantic dairy supply chain
Progressive, November 16, 2020

University of Maryland Professor Talks Weed and Pest Management During Small Farm Confrerence

Lancaster Farming, November 15, 2020

Maryland Researcher Focuses on Value-Added Crops Like Hibiscus and Turmeric
Lancaster Farming, November 13, 2020

A healthy gut equals a healthy (poultry) flock
The Delmarva Farmer, October 30, 2020

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