When Bobby Prigel took over his family's Glen Arm dairy farm some years back, he shooed the cows out of the barn, cut his milk production by about 30 percent and planted grass on the cornfields.
Prigel is considered a leader in Maryland among dairy farmers who have turned to what people in the industry call "grazers."
His cows feed on grass out in the pasture instead of being kept in barns and fed a diet of grain.
He says that turning back the pages of history to an earlier form of dairy farming has boosted his profits and reduced his workload.
Prigel will share his experiences with other farmers as part of an educational field day series offered by Future Harvest -- Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.
This is the fourth year that the nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting profitable and sustainable food and farming systems in the Chesapeake Bay region has held a series of workshops.
The first of this year's five sessions, titled "Getting the Dirt on Strawberries," will explore a farmer's best management practices for growing the fruit.
Guy Moore, co-owner of Larriland Farm in Woodbine, will provide an in-depth look at strawberries during the flowering time.
He will discuss his strategies on pest management, matted row production, season extension, variety selection and marketing trends.
The session will be held at the farm on May 8. All five programs are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
The session at Prigel's Bellevale Farm, "Adding Value to Dairying," will be held on June 19. He will also discuss his plans for organic farming and expansion into value-added enterprises.
The educational tour moves on to Wheatland, Va., July 17 for a session on sustainable vegetable production.
There, the owners of Potomac Vegetable Farms will discuss the advantages of vegetable farming with minimal use of agrochemicals.
"Are Small Ruminants For You?" will be led by Jean Dietz-Band of Many Rocks Farm in Keedysville on Sept. 11.
She will give a tour of the 40-acre family-owned meat goat farm and discuss her breeding experiments.
On Oct. 22, Ray Weil, a University of Maryland researcher, will talk about cover crops during a visit to One Straw Farm in White Hall.
The farm identifies itself as the largest organic vegetable farm in Maryland.
Additional information on the Future Harvest's field days series can be obtained at its Web site: www.futureharvestcasa.org/calen dar.html.
For some lucky members of farm families, there could be help ahead in paying the cost of college.
Maryland grain farmers and Delmarva region chicken growers are offering scholarships to students with agricultural backgrounds.
The Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board is offering $2,500 scholarships to college students interested in pursuing an agricultural-related career.
Applications are due June 1 and will be awarded at the association's annual commodity classic on July 24.
The association usually awards two scholarships a year. The 2008-2009 awards will go to residents who are enrolled at or have been accepted to a four-year institution working toward a bachelor's degree, or a two-year school with an agricultural program.
The college does not need to be in Maryland. Applicants or the applicant's immediate family must be involved in the production of grain.
For additional information, call the board at 410-956-5771 or visit its Web page: www.marylandgrain .com.
The Delmarva Flock Supervisors' Association Committee is accepting applications for its 2008 scholarship. At least one scholarship in the amount of $1,500 to $4,000 will be awarded.
Preference will be given to applicants whose parents or family business are members of the Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. and to people planning a career in Delmarva's poultry industry.
Applications must be received by June 30.
For additional information, call the Delmarva Poultry Industry at 302-856-9037 or 800-878-2449. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Technology improvements have allowed the productivity of American farmers to increase drastically, according to researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
During colonial times, one farmer fed four people.
Today, one farmer produces food for 130 others.