|Wednesday What's New: Tobacco Farm to Flower Farm|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Wednesday, 31 August 2011|
For nearly three centuries Marylandís farmers grew tobacco in their fields, but not any more. The evolution from tobacco farm to flower farm began in 1999 when the state of Maryland offered farmers a buyout that would subsidize their income for 10 years, in return for not growing tobacco. Today many of the farmers, who didnít want to see their land go to yet more housing developments, are growing flowers and organic vegetables. And, theyíre making a living at it.
83% of the farmers took advantage of the Tobacco Buyout, which is officially known as Southern Maryland Tobacco Crop Conversion Program. The mission of the program is ďTo promote diverse, market-driven agricultural enterprises, which coupled with agricultural land preservation, will preserve Southern Marylandís environmental resources and rural character while keeping the regionís farmland productive and the agricultural economy vibrant.Ē
Instead of growing tobacco the farmers have successfully diversified into a number of crops including grains; fruits; wine grapes; herbs, vegetables, and flowers, along with livestock operations including llamas and emus as well as cattle, hogs and poultry. According to Christine Bergmark, director of the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission, cut-flower farming will earn $19,000 an acre, better than tobacco.
Photo source: www.calvert-county.com/tobacco.htm