[Option C] Sustainable Agriculture: Certificate Track

Careers in Small-Scale Farming

BREAKING NEW GROUND is a ten month certification for beginning  farmers in sustainable agriculture.

Our course is aligned with the USDA curriculum and addresses organic sustainable agriculture. We incorporate a  a wide variety of adaptive tools and techniques for accommodating a wide range of physical and mental disabilities with the goal of teaching them how to be active gardeners or farmers.

Our graduates, who complete the course and adhere to the Code of Regulations, are given a plot of vacant land on which to establish and maintain their own agri-business. Some of the graduates may choose to further their on-farm training and choose to work on another farm for additional time.  One year of follow up is provided with continued access to workshops, agricultural conferences, TALMAR memberships,  TALMAR CSA vendor space and the farm alliance portal.

According to The Center for Rural Affairs within 10 years there is expected to be a 50% reduction in the number of farmers across the United States. As a result there is a demand for new farmers, especially those trained in organic and sustainable agriculture.

  • Half of all current farmers likely to retire in the next decade
  • Number of entry-level farmers has fallen by 30% since 1987
  • New farmers make up only 10 percent of farmers and ranchers

What happens when these aging farmers and ranchers are no longer working the land? Their lands concentrates in bigger operations, and we lose our family farms and ranches and our rural communities.  There is a need to fill this gap.

TALMAR  has several answers to this issue, including but not limited to,  downsizing  production space,  build structures that may accommodate farmers that experience mobility issues and market to smaller scale end users such as restaurants, farmer’s markets, co-ops road side farm stands. This is just one of many community needs that TALMAR addresses in the program.

This innovative 4-Semester Program Includes:  Education  in Planning Management & Development, Social & Environmental Issues, and Marketing & Distribution.  Our farm lab provides the application of the class content  while providing hands-on-learning in Organic Farming and Gardening Skills in our growing fields and greenhouses.

Students are required to  participate in a series of workshops that are outlined below.

Breaking New Ground Application (Official, 2018)

CURRICULUM CALENDAR  (Note that there are 2 sessions each year).

November 1, 2017     Deadline for Application for the January, 2018 enrollment

November 15, 2017   Veterans using benefits must have an approval letter signed from their case manager emailed to tracyhauser@talmar.org

or faxed to our office (410-321-1466).

January 17, 2018        Wednesday evening workshops*

February 19, 2018     Practicum start date

November 1, 2018     Certification commencement

April 1, 2018                Deadline for Application for the June, 2018 enrollment

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

June 1,  2018                2nd session begins

December 1, 2018      Last class before winter break

January 14, 2019       Wednesday evening workshops begin for 10 weeks* Note: this date is  subject to change.

February 19, 2019     Practicum reconvenes

March 19, 2019           Certification commencement

  • The 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 at TALMAR will  provide additional opportunities to learn how to build raised beds, vertical structures, row tunnels and to set up a hydroponic system that may be duplicated anywhere. We encourage you to invite family members.

These workshops total approximately 30 hours of your class work time.  Trainees must attend six additional hours of hands-on training (farm practicum) each week for a total of eight months. This will take place primarily at our farm at TALMAR.  You will be given opportunities to spend your practicum day at other farms to expose the trainee to  aquatics, animal husbandry, berry farming and the like.

Fee Based: $4800.00  (Payment plans available).  VETERANS benefit may apply.  Please contact tracyhauser@talmar.org for more information.


The leading killer in Baltimore is heart disease. Graduates of Breaking New Ground reduce this rate by educating their consumers about the benefits of eating naturally-grown produce. Through our training, farmers will help decrease obesity and decrease the number of people suffering from heart disease.

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 talmar@talmar.org

**TALMAR  has been using horticultural therapy for 18 years. It has expanded in capacity with the beginning farmers program, Breaking New Ground, which offers training to all individuals, including our military veterans, while addressing a variety of disabling conditions that could affect their success in farming.