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Meet Amy Crone of Harwood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amy Crone. Them and their team share their story with us below:

Amy grew up in Maryland but not in agriculture. She discovered agriculture many years later through food and conscious eating – after discovering farmers’ markets in college, she learned more about food systems while pursuing a career in international development. Tom grew up on a family farm in Ohio, where they raised cows, pigs, and grain. He left to pursue a degree in engineering at Cornell University, where he and Amy met. Tom took a job in Maryland after their undergraduate and has been here ever since. When they decided to start their family, Amy shifted careers from international development to work for the Maryland Department of Agriculture, managing the Farmers Market Nutrition Program. She then left to start the Maryland Farmers Market Association and is now working for the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs on USDA projects to advance the acceptance of federal nutrition benefits programs by farmers and markets. Tom and Amy had been looking for a small farm but had yet to think they would be able to find a place to live on the farm due to high real estate prices in Anne Arundel County. But then they found what is now HopScratch Farm, which had been for sale for several years and needed some work to get the property functioning again. The two love to work on projects, and it has been a labor of love – with lots of fence boards replaced, some house renovations, and the installation of a hopyard. We have been on the property for four and a half years and now offer beef, lamb, eggs, and other local farm products through our shop on the farm, in addition to horse boarding. Customers can order online and pick it up at the farm.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It is tough to make a living on a small farm in the current day and age. While we would love to have at least one of us working full-time on the farm, it is not feasible currently, so we work outside our day jobs. Other than that significant challenge, we have purposely chosen animals and products on the farm that are relatively low-maintenance, keeping our daily chores to a manageable minimum. We love that our two children will grow up on a farm, learning responsibility and valuing the food on the table.

Please tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others.
Amy is a national expert on federal nutrition benefits programs for farmers and markets. She has spoken at conferences and events all over the country about the MarketLink (www.marketlink.org) program that she manages for the NAFMNP (www.nafmnp.org). Tom is a Vice President with Arcadis, an international engineering firm, where he manages large-scale environmental remediation projects all over the country.

What do you think about luck?
There is always an element of luck in life – we were lucky to meet each other in college, lucky that this property came on the market when we were looking, and fortunate to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that life has presented us. But as we think about our future we also believe that when it comes to luck, you can increase your opportunities through perseverance; and we are willing to put in the hard work that running a small farm business requires.

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Amy Crone

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