Mark Townsend, the most recent agricultural agent at Frederick County’s University of Maryland Agricultural Extension workplace, believes that farming is neither a job nor a life-style.
“It is an incurable addiction,” the previous farm-hand and UMD graduate mentioned.
After graduating in 2020 on the peak of the pandemic, he started working at Rocklands Farm in Poolesville earlier than transferring to Wyoming to proceed managing livestock on a bigger scale. He moved again to Maryland and continued to work at native farms, together with Clark’s Elioak Farm in Howard County, milking cows and managing pastures.
He returned to his alma mater, engaged on dairy analysis on the college’s Research and Education Center in Clarksburg, earlier than starting his work in Frederick.
Townsend was smitten by making use of for an agricultural place in Frederick. He couldn’t assist however apply, saying the county is a superb space with a big agricultural economic system.
“It’s got a long-standing tradition here and it’s just such an integral part of [the] community,” Townsend mentioned.
Townsend, who started working on the extension on May 23, mentioned he needs to make use of his diploma in Agricultural and Natural Resources Economics to advertise a three-legged strategy to sustainable farming. Sustainability typically depends on ecological and environmental points, leaving out the integral monetary piece, he defined.
Townsend mentioned he additionally needs to give attention to agronomy, which is the science of soil administration and crop manufacturing, and soil well being, however his present aim is to get a way of the neighborhood and ensure that folks find out about him. He’s been visiting farms across the county, which he mentioned is his favourite a part of the job, and permitting phrase of mouth to do a number of the work for him. Townsend has additionally made a concentrated effort to place out data on-line about himself and applications that the extension workplace gives.
In the longer term, Townsend mentioned he needs to create a bridge between farmers and the science of soil well being. Scientists, he mentioned, typically overcomplicate or turn out to be too technical about matters, which doesn’t assist farmers a lot.
“I would like to step in and kind of be the conduit between the two,” the self-proclaimed “soil nerd” mentioned.
His love for soil and agriculture began in highschool, when he took an AP environmental science class and was taught that agriculture was destroying the world. Rather than taking these claims with out query, Townsend determined to discover agriculture and farm life.
He started engaged on farms, milking cows and dealing with horticulture, which impressed him to proceed engaged on sustainability of agriculture in school. UMD, Townsend mentioned, is a “phenomenal institution” that he’s extraordinarily grateful in direction of. The college formed and molded who he’s, leaving him a “Terp for life,” he mentioned.
Townsend and his household, who stay in Montgomery County, are all followers of the Baltimore Orioles. Since farming is his habit, he additionally manages a herd of cattle with Rocklands Farm CEO Greg Glenn. They follow rotational grazing, which quantities to transferring the cows extraordinarily typically and attempt to emulate pure grazing patterns as a lot attainable throughout the constraints of their land.
Currently pursuing a graduate diploma in geographic data methods by means of UMD’s Geography division, Townsend anticipates the toughest a part of his job being time administration. Between household, working, getting his diploma, and cattle administration, he is aware of it’ll be tough, however he already has plans for the subsequent few months.
“Obviously, I’ll go to the Frederick Fair and the state fair in September and I’ll be at the Commodity Classic,” Townsend mentioned.