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Extending Knowledge, Changing Lives!

June 2021-The official e-newsletter for UMES Extension.

Greetings UMES Extension friends!
There is a growing enthusiasm among the UMES Extension team that more and more in-person workshops, farm visits and other forms of training are being scheduled with significant, positive responses from participants. Please remember to visit to verify events and to keep up with a variety of new activities.

In the present communication piece, Dr. Zoumenou and her team, along with Dr. Dixit, have continued success with the community orchard in Fruitland and other communities.  A number of UMES specialists have started several webinars on the different challenges of industrial hemp cultivation.  Very soon Cooperative Extension Immunization Education projects through UMES Extension will start to disseminate information about the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines and the impact on local communities.

Also, look for the upcoming opening of the newly renovated UMES Research and Education Farm training facility to the public to continue our tradition of serving local farmers, students and other interested citizens on the Eastern Shore. See photo below!

For the moment, browse through this issue of Connections! As always, please feel free to call or write to us if any questions come to mind.  Visit us at
Enrique Nelson Escobar, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Extension
Associate Professor and Small Ruminant Extension Specialist
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
As seen in this aerial view taken with a drone, UMES' 365-acre Research and Education Farm is located at 10789 Stewart Neck Rd., in Princess Anne. It is the site of research and education projects, and test plots to help introduce and educate people on Delmarva about herbs, alternative and specialty ethnic crops.  The facility has been recently renovated and will soon open to the public.  Look for upcoming announcements.
Collaboration reaps FRUITS of their labor
Three years in the making, the Fruitland Mini Orchard is ready for its first harvest.  UMES Extension’s Well Connected Communities and Horticulture and Fruits programs partnered with the City of Fruitland to serve the community by providing outreach activities to learn about backyard fruit cultivation and sustainability while addressing food insecurity in the Tri-County area.

The project came about as a way to teach healthy eating and living habits and help address food insecurity in three Lower Eastern Shore communities, a goal of UMES’ Nutrition and Health Program and the Well Connected Communities initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  A community-driven health needs assessment resulted in the selection of three different projects, one for each of the communities, including “Make Fruits Available to All.”
Click above image to watch WMDT 47 abc's Jordie Clark interview UMES' Drs. Virginie Zoumenou and Naveen Kumar Dixit, and Linda Powell from the City of Fruitland about the Fruitland Mini Orchard's first harvest and food insecurity on the Eastern Shore.
Industrial hemp shows promise as a potential cash crop for Eastern Shore farmers
UMES researchers involved in its Industrial Hemp Pilot Research Program took to the fields early last month for a hemp cultivar screening trial.  Some 43 cultivars were planted that will be screened for cannabinoid production on the Eastern Shore.

The 2018 Farm Bill paved the way for the USDA to set regulations and guidelines to implement a program for the commercial production of industrial hemp in the U.S.  In Maryland, farmers are required to partner with institutions of higher education for hemp cultivation under a research program such as UMES’ program established in 2019.

“The way the partnership works is the growers work with the university to design a research project that would be carried out in their fields to answer a specific research question,” said Dr. Sadanand Dhekney, an associate professor in UMES' Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences and director of the program.  “The product from the research could be sold by the grower to make a profit.  At the same time, it would allow the university to gain science-based information from the project.”

The eight growers from the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland that partnered with UMES to grow industrial hemp under the 2020 pilot program were selected based on their geographical location, soil and microclimate, the owner’s previous experience farming, availability of farming equipment for crop management along with other stipulations set by the Maryland Department of Agriculture.  So far this year, seven growers have signed partnership agreements with UMES to grow industrial hemp for cannabinoid production.  Applications are still being accepted for the summer season.

Pictured above, from left, Dr. Papaiah Sardaru, post-doctoral research associate in the plant pathology program at UMES, and Dr. Sadanand Dhekney are shown planting hemp cultivars for the trial.
Dr. Sadanand Dhekney, an associate professor of genetics and plant breeding, talks about the UMES Industrial Hemp Program.  Click above video or here to view the video.  Click here for more information.
Military veterans benefit from UMES Extension Horticulture program

Serving the region’s military veterans through horticulture training is one of Dr. Naveen Kumar Dixit’s passions.  The horticulturist and UMES Extension specialist has partnered over the past three years with regional agencies to provide free workshops on fruit and vegetable cultivation and is on the road to forming a Veterans Agriculture Association on Delmarva.

“Beginning farmers who are veterans are learning to produce specialty crops,” Dixit said. "Not only will it provide fresh food to local people, it also provides a source of income."

4-H STEM offers National Junior Master Gardener program

Lisa Murphy (above second from right) loves gardening and devotes her time to promoting an appreciation of it and the environment through the National Junior Master Gardener program.  Murphy, a 4-H STEM senior agent associate with UMES Extension, is the Maryland state coordinator for the program that provides resources for parents, teachers and extension faculty and staff who support local educators.

 According to Murphy, JMG “engages children in novel, hands-on learning experiences that provide a love of gardening, develop an appreciation for the environment and cultivate the mind.”

Murphy is conducting a series of seven virtual classes April-July to a group of youth ages 8-11. The dozen participants received a handbook and starter bag of gardening items who put them to use during a service-learning project making a “salad table” at a community garden in nearby Princess Anne (pictured above).  The UMES Extension 4-H JMG group, Murphy said, is learning about plant development and propagation, soil, water and nutrient requirements, and composting. Once the participants complete the courses, it will move them toward 4-H Junior Master Gardener Level One Certification.                                    Read More>  

4-H STEM educators reach young minds during
UMES 2021 AgDiscovery Program 
4-H STEM educator Bradley Hartle shows UMES 2021 AgDiscovery summer camp students a demonstration on "Understanding Water Quality and Riparian Buffers."  Area middle and high school students are on campus June 13-26 to explore agricultural sciences and gain knowledge about related careers.  Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Inspection Service, the camp is free to participants.
New webinar series focuses on peer-to-peer learning
May saw the kick-off of the Horticulture and Fruit program’s new webinar series, “Ingenuity and Innovation in Agriculture:  Talk with a Farmer.” Nearly 100 produce growers and gardening enthusiasts registered for opportunities to learn about the successes and challenges others face in their agricultural pursuits—many of them repeat customers.

Mike and Tina Butler (Top) of Butler's Farm Market & Orchard in Crisfield, Maryland, discussed farm diversification through the cultivation of bedding plants and perennials on May 29.

Mike and Ashley McMahon (Above left) of Magnolia Farm in Esmont, Virginia, talked to attendees on May 15 about their small-scale mushroom operation and self-sustainable farm.

John McMahon, (Above right) founder and farm manager of the Schuyler Greens Company near Charlottesville, Virginia, opened the series on May 1 sharing his experiences establishing the hydroponic greens operation and its evolution through the past five years including surviving the pandemic.
The next webinar in the series will focus on cut flower production.  Details will be forthcoming.  For additional webinars and events, visit
UMES Extension Small Ruminant Program
Ag Communications was on hand to get a close up look at lambing and kidding on the UMES Farm.  Click on the image above to watch a video of a ewe giving birth.  Click here to visit the Small Ruminant Program.  
UMES Extension observes Ntl. Herbs and Spices Day
Specialty Herbs Consultant Henriette den Ouden's five "Best Kitchen Herbs" to grow now are basil, parsley, thyme, chives and oregano. Click on the image above or visit to check out her tips for growing!
Free farm equipment swabbing service available
UMES Extension Food Safety Specialist Melinda Schwarz is sharing this opportunity for area producers to take advantage of free swabbing of packinghouse surfaces for bacteria by UMD colleagues.  Test results are anonymous and are provided only to the producer.  Results are typically available as soon as an hour or the next day or two.  Click image above to register.  Contact Schwarz at for more information.

Upcoming Events
Registration links in burgundy

Fruit Cultivation webinar-FREE!
Establishing an Apple Orchard-July 3

UMES Ag Showcase-FREE!
SAVE THE DATE-August 18 as UMES SANS and Atlantic Tractor team up to host a fun-filled and informative day of field demonstrations, tours, interactive farm stops, agricultural exhibitors/vendors, food trucks and hands-on activities for youth. 
Registration and details will be forthcoming.


UMES Extension in the News

"Make Fruits Available to All" program, addressing food security on the Eastern Shore
WMDT, June 7, 2021 

Researchers hold hemp cultivar trial
The Delmarva Farmer, June 4, 2021

Navigating Maryland's open burn laws (Ag Law)
The Delmarva Farmer, May 21, 2021

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