The Story of an Organic Job that has Grown into a Career
Agriculture is the largest single land use in the state of Maryland, but how many of its residents know when tomato season is?
For one college graduate, land behind her parents’ house was all she needed to start in agriculture on her own … and a couple of books and the internet to learn when such seasons were.
After graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in American studies, Emma Jagoz taught herself how to farm. This will be the Cockeysville resident’s seventh year working as the founding farmer at Moon Valley Farm.
At the same time, she was starting the farm, 22-year-old Emma was pregnant with her first child. Today, the “seedling mama” frequently shares pictures of her children and the farm on Instagram, @MoonValleyFarm, and says her kids love getting their share of crops.
Already building something from nothing with her own bare hands, the new mother had to balance taking care of two children early on in her career, tending to the farm when she had spare time.
From plant identification to learning new equipment, she takes pride in doing something tangible every day.
“A large part of the learning curve for me was not only figuring out the ideal growing conditions for each vegetable but learning all of those other (business) hats,” Emma says.
A Community Supported Agriculture farm, Moon Valley Farm reaps a variety of vegetables and herbs available for the community to buy shares of each season. With a variety of options, CSA members can pick up their share each week at a variety of locations in the area.
Emma believes the community-oriented aspect is exciting for community members. The support can also give a boost to the local economy.
“Buying local is better for the local economy since our small business not only hires locals but also puts nearly 80 cents of every dollar back into our local economy,” she says.
When buying local, the environmental cost of burning fossil fuels for other food doesn’t apply. Emma doesn’t cut corners when it comes to her farm’s products and their health, either.
Moon Valley takes a number of steps to farm organically.
“Local food is beneficial for the community in several ways. It tastes better and is better for you, primarily because it is picked when it’s ripe, not weeks beforehand to be packed and shipped across the country,” Emma says. “The shorter the distance between when a crop is picked and when it’s eaten, the more nutrient-dense it can be.”
The farm doesn’t use sprays to control pests like some other farms do. Instead, they believe in using crop rotation to prevent soil-borne diseases. The farm also uses compost to increase organic matter in the soil, so plants are healthier.
“It basically puts less synthetic chemicals into the soil and therefore into the waterways,” Emma says, noting how important it is to plan ahead. “We just can’t rely on something to come in afterward to kind of fix the problem.”
Continuously taking matters into its own hands, something new the farm will be using to help speed up that process this year is a new riding tractor that has been in the works for some time. Previously a push-from-behind tractor was being used, but Emma says this will triple the farm’s production.
“We are going to grow on about three times the acreage,” Emma says, as she has been preparing to scale up preparation for 2018.
Triple the production means potentially triple the harvest for CSA members and restaurants the farm sells to in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., including Parts & Labor in Remington and MOMs Organic Market in Timonium and White Marsh.
For more information on Moon Valley Farm, its CSA and pickup locations, visit MoonValleyFarm.net.