Berean Hill Farm, based in Sparks Glencoe, Maryland, was founded by Nancy Bjornard and Audrey Swanenberg in 2014. The farm is in the process of becoming Organically Certified and in 2015 received a $3,512 grant from The FruitGuys Community Fund to install a solar-powered and drip-irrigation systems across the farm.
Drip Irrigation System
After installing the systems the farm co-owner said: “We have successfully decreased Berean Hill Farm’s carbon footprint by not relying on fossil-fuel based irrigation methods and successfully implementing a solar-powered irrigation system. We have completed construction of the solar-powered windmill and completed designing and assembling our gravity-fed, solar-powered drip irrigation system for each of our growing fields.
We successfully donated produce to DC Central Kitchen, a vocational training, and food-salvaging organization. They use the produce for summer meals for students. We also donated produce directly to sober homes in Anne Arundel County, Maryland”.
The grant enabled Berean Hill Farm to construct and operate a solar-powered irrigation system on their 3-acre vegetable, flower and herb farm. “The solar-powered irrigation system will continue to work for many more seasons although we may need to invest in new drip tape over the years, due to typical wear-and-tear”.
The project allows our Berean Hill Farm to focus operational revenue into other aspects of the business, not just into fossil fuels.
What’s Next for Berean Hill Farm?
2016 brought a lot of changes at Berean Hill Farm. Nancy Bjornard welcomed her first child into the world, a little baby boy back in December 2015. Audrey Swanenberg has begun managing Chesapeake Farm to Table, a local food hub and a network of 24 farms that uses an online ordering system and delivers twice a week to Baltimore restaurants.
Berean Hill Farm has been officially dissolved as a business, but the land and fields where the project was set up is now being used by another organic vegetable farmer. The solar powered irrigation system continues to be used by the new owner who inherited the entire system when he began farming the land. The new project continues to support small-scale sustainable farming. Nancy and Audrey continue to farm on a smaller scale at different sites. Nancy’s small farm is called Prairie Pasque Farm and Audrey’s is called Tanglewood Farm.
When asked about advice for future grantees the Co-Owners said that it was important to build a specific project that would broadly influence the farm. “Water is such a vital part of farming, and we were very proud to implement a sustainability project on our farm that touched so many other aspects of the operation”.
Some of the lessons Berean Hill Farm learned was about the timing of the funding. Spring is the busiest time for farmers. Their advice is future grantees: be realistic when planning and scheduling your grant funds.They also suggest talking with other farmers in your community who have implemented similar projects.