Well, our WINTER Maryland Horse Council Farm Stewardship meeting lived up to its name as we had a dusting of snow and a cold wind. Luckily, beautiful Baywood Farm has a wonderful club room where our hardy group gathered and found out more about the Farm Stewardship Assessment and Certification Program (FSCAP). Hosts Jamie and Sarah Suchoski welcomed the group and enthusiastically shared their experience in building a modern riding facility in Harwood which is in Anne Arundel County.
The facility was built from the beginning with the goal of being safe and healthy for the horses as well as environmentally sound. There are 52 stalls, boarder lockers, grooming stalls, wash stalls, the club room, showers and rest rooms, a full kitchen, an indoor arena and two outdoor arenas as well as a fenced farm perimeter trail.
The main challenge was water management as the area tends to be wet and subject to mud. The owners put in a serious concrete/stone base under the club house/apartment and barn. The fields were fenced to optimize pasture for the horses and minimize erosion. Roof runoff is diverted to underground pipes and drain fields and collected in a drainage pond down the hill from the barn. The manure storage area is on a concrete pad surrounded by large concrete blocks and convenient for dumping the manure from the stable as well as for pickup by a local service.
Gerald Talbert, FSCAP senior consultant, presents the elements of of the FSCAP certification process.
Baywood Farm is the 18th FASCAP certified horse farm, putting 60 acres into the program in which farms meet voluntary standards of farm stewardship. There are now 27 horse farms in the program, protecting 3,138 acres in eleven counties across the state. Gerald Talbert presented the FSCAP program to our groups as he is a senior consultant to the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts which designed and launched this innovative program for the state. He explained that farms voluntarily apply to the program by having an up-to-date nutrient management plan, a conservation plan and a farm visit to review implementation of sound environmental practices. Shelly Hopkins, the Anne Arundel County equine specialist from the Soil Conservation District office, explained the elements of the Conservation Plan prepared for Baywood Farm which includes a detailed site map and information on all elements of water management, erosion protection and land management. Questions were raised on where to get information on cost-sharing programs (your Soil Conservation representative) and whether there are positive incentives for becoming FSCAP certified (some early access to cost-sharing programs such as putting in pollinator habitat).
Hosts Jamie and Sarah share their experiences in building and managing the farm