Who We Are
Since 1998, Future Harvest – a membership nonprofit – has been proud of its role in moving the Chesapeake region’s agriculture forward. We have grown our voice and deepened our trainings for sustainable agriculture. Our member farms continue to be leaders and practical laboratories for developing and championing practices that lead to commercial success through the lens of protecting the bay. Rotating animals through pastures, for example, leaves grass in place to protect against erosion, draw down carbon via photosynthesis, and produces a healthier animal. Fertility is added with crops grown only to add organic matter to soil. Insects and weeds are managed with mulch and crop rotations; synthetic pesticides and other chemicals are used only as a last and carefully calibrated resort. Turning produce and meat into jams, jellies, sausages, and other products adds value and brings more money to the farm and keeps it in the region.
We build on our experience that the most effective way to spread these and other practices throughout our region is through farmer-to-farmer education, beginner farmer training, and building community, awareness, and collaboration among farmers, food businesses, policy makers, and consumers.
Just like agriculture in our region, Future Harvest continually strives to ensure our work translates into real change on the ground.
We envision food flowing from farm and fisheries to table in ways that strengthen farming and the regional food economy; protect our land, water, and air; and provide nutritious food that sustains the region’s communities.
To advance agriculture that sustains farmers, communities, and the environment.
OUR MISSION AREA
Our mission area includes four states and DC, with special focus on the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Our Core Programs
The Beginner Farmer Training Program (BFTP) aims to replenish our aging farmer population with a workforce trained in sustainability from the get-go. The 3-level program is year-long and has a competitive application process.
The Field School uses farmer-to-farmer knowledge transfer and expert-led presentations to help farmers make fully informed production and marketing decisions for the long-term sustainability of their businesses, natural resources, and communities. The Field School holds about 35 farmer- and consumer-education workshops, tours, and intensives each year on farms and food businesses around the region. Programs are open to the public and draw annually about 700 people – farmers, consumers, food businesses, and other advocates and educators.
The Annual Conference is held every January and is the largest sustainable agriculture conference in the lower-mid-Atlantic. It draws about 600-700 people every year, mostly small-to mid-scale farmers as well as educators and advocates. It has seven tracks, a full day of pre-conference workshops, and 2-3 plenary speakers.
Community building happens through our membership and partnerships. FH has about 800 members comprised of farmers, consumers, food businesses, landowners, nonprofits, ag educators. We also convene partners outside our membership, as well as participate in a range of external networks of food system actors.
FH’s Voice 4 Change program works collaboratively with others to advance policies and raise awareness of issues that will help advance our mission. We have had great successes, including the passage of the 2017 Maryland Healthy Soils Act and cost-shares for farmers converting row cropland to pasture.
Our most recent program is On-Farm Research. We’re conducting a 7-10 year soil benchmarking study where we will test soil on select farms over time to help participating farmers better understand and share with others how their practices affect soil fertility. We are also starting study circles with intermediate farmers to facilitate information sharing and strategies around farm finances.
We created the Go Grassfed multimedia and education campaign to step up supply and demand for meat, dairy, and other products from animals raised on pasture; and the Million Acre Challenge to advance regenerative agriculture in the region with a multi-year, multi-partner, multi-approach collaborative.