Course 201: Breaking New Ground: Beginning Farmer Curriculum in Sustainable Agriculture

Careers in Small Scale Farming

The Center for Rural Affairs states warns that in 10 years or less the United States will experience a 50% reduction of farmers across the country. As a result farmers are needed more than ever to close this widening gap.

  • 1/2 of all U.S. farmers are ages 50 or older;
  • Number of entry-level farmers has fallen by 30% since 1987;
  • New farmers make up only 10% of farmers and ranchers.

What happens when these aging farmers and ranchers are no longer working the land? We experience a massive deficit among the number of agricultural producers harvesting our supply chain across the country.

TALMAR’s Beginner Farmer’s Training called “Breaking New Ground” is at the forefront of reinventing the definition of agriculture. This begins with downsizing production space by growing vertically verses the latter. This increases the types of individuals who can farm. TALMAR requires self-operational graduates to begin production on no more than 2,000 square feet of land, allowing for a smooth transition into their initial year of farming.

TALMAR’s four farming models of Vertical, Raised Beds, Hoop-Housing, and Hydroponics can each be operated from a seated position, expanding the range of individuals (such as those wheelchair bound), who can farm. The outcome yields partnerships with local farm-to-table restaurants and markets and growers help meet the demand for organic produce. Furthermore, small-scale agricultural producers can sell in  end users  farmer’s markets, farm co-operatives (co-ops), and road-side farm stands.

TALMAR makes the outcomes above achievable through Breaking New Ground’s USDA-aligned curriculum combined with its on-site, hands-on Farm Practicum/Lab. In 10 months, trainees will master 5 major subject units that include Soil Health, Transplanting, Direct Seeding to Marketing, Distribution and Farm Financing.

Graduation from the program yields multiple opportunities for beginning farmers. Whether launching operations on individual plots of land or employed as high-level operators for large-scale farms, the opportunities for financial success are endless.  Each graduate receives a lifetime membership into the Breaking New Ground Farm Alliance which provides monthly question and answer forums and access to our member-only Breaking New Ground Alliance Web Portal. Graduates can access this online resource 24-hours a day to receive feedback on their agricultural pursuits.

Breaking New Ground’s 2-semester program includes education in:

  • Planning Management & Development
  • Social & Environmental Issues, and Marketing & Distribution
  • Organic Farming and Gardening Skills in our growing fields and greenhouses.

Completion of Course 101 or 102 is a prerequisite for this course.

Breaking New Ground Online Application

Breaking New Ground’s Speaker’s Series offers a wide range representatives from a variety of farm organizations.

*Breaking New Ground’s Curriculum Calendar

November 1, 2018     Deadline for Application for the January, 2019 enrollment

November 15, 2018   Veterans using benefits must have an approval letter signed from their case manager emailed to or faxed to our office (410-321-1466).

January 17, 2019        Wednesday evening workshops*

February 19, 2019     Practicum start date

November 1, 2019     Certification commencement

April 1, 2019                Deadline for Application for the June, 2019 enrollment

April 15, 2019              Veterans using benefits must have an approval letter signed from their case manager emailed to or faxed to our office(410-321-1466).

June 1,  2019                2nd session begins

December 1, 2019      Last class before winter break

January 14, 2020       Wednesday evening workshops begin for 10 weeks* Note: this date is  subject to change.

February 19, 2020     Practicum reconvenes

March 19, 2020           Certification commencement

*Sessions are offered twice each year.

Breaking New Ground offers a variety of on and off-site seminars and workshops such as:

10 week winter workshop series (January-March), is held in partnership with University of Maryland Extension Service. This series is focused on introducing beginning farmers to key production, marketing, and business planning topics.  These workshops are held once a week on Wednesday evenings (6 p.m. – 9 p.m.) at the Baltimore County Ag Center in Cockeysville, MD.  For trainees located too far to attend in person, they will be offering a webcast option.

Saturday Workshops teach trainees how to construct raised beds, vertical structures, row tunnels and hydroponic systems.  Trainees are often joined by various members of the community who for payment per, can attend each workshop.

Likewise, trainees are given the opportunity to mentor off-site on a specialty farm such as vineyards, dairy, cattle, and fruit, and aquaponics farms.


“Did you know that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the overall number one killer in Baltimore,  is responsible for 30 percent of the deaths of women in the city and for 15 percent of all premature deaths?  In total, for men and women, heart disease claims approximately 2,000 lives in Baltimore each year.” – Emilie Gilde: Program Director, Tobacco Use and CVD Prevention (Baltimore City Health Department)

  •  As a trainee in Breaking New Ground, you’ll play an instrumental role in reducing the number of Baltimore residents with heart disease. At TALMAR, we’ll teach you how to educate your consumers concerning the benefits of eating naturally-grown produce. 
  • The departure from interstate commerce is ever on the rise. Produce travels thousands of miles which upon arrival, results in shelf lives of 4 or less days. To endure commutes, companies rely heavily on the use of chemicals, preservatives of which are responsible in part for the departure of company’s consumer bases. Consequently, Maryland and the U.S are witnessing a widespread move towards buying “local”.
  • Baltimore is comprised of over 44 food deserts- neighborhoods without access to fruit and vegetables. The need for harvesting produce in Baltimore is huge.  For more information call us at 410-825-2020 or email us at