Our produce is available through our CSA with pick-up points in Bethesda and Easton, Easton Market Square, certain Whole Foods and other niche markets and is on the menu at Eastern Shore, Baltimore, Washington and Annapolis restaurants which feature fresh, local and sustainably produced ingredients.
History of the Farm
Cottingham Farm in Talbot County, Maryland has a long and a short history. The land was settled in 1658 by Isaac Abraham who arrived from England on a condition of plantation to farm tobacco on fifty acres.
Jonathan and William Shaw, from “Cottingham” in Yorkshire England, claimed an adjacent 900 acres in 1662 and called it Cottingham. Tobacco grew here in colonial times, likely followed by wheat to feed General Washington’s Continental Army, followed by fruit tree orchards through the early 1900’s, supplanted by feed corn and soy in the 1940’s. In this new century, the land (now about 160 acres) is being transitioned to healthful sustainably grown and locally distributed fruits, vegetables and herbs. We grow our produce using organic methods, with no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides, surrounded by buffers of wildlife habitat and buffers for the Chesapeake Bay. We like to call it Real Food.
The summer of 2008 was our first experience with growing for market. Our heirloom black, pink, orange and red tomatoes were invited to a wedding, so we consider our first year a grand success!
In 2009 and 2010, our customers were a well-known whole foods market as well as Eastern Shore and Baltimore restaurants and specialty markets which feature fresh, local and sustainably produced ingredients. In spring 2010, we opened at the Easton Market Square where you can find us Thursday through Sunday, and on July 1, 2010, our produce was certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program.
In 2011, we brought our real foods to an expanding base of wonderful restaurants and wellness centers and, for the first time, began to produce grass-fed organic heritage chicken, turkey and duck, and we are offering a year round CSA (community supported agriculture) with pick-up points in Easton and in Bethesda.
We believe we must return to the times of organically growing healthy and nutritious food for people to eat – and there is no better place for this to happen than on Maryland’s Eastern Shore which lies in the Chesapeake Bay watershed — which has an agrarian history and reputation — and is within a short driving distance of some of our favorite metropolitan centers in addition to our own small Eastern Shore towns. Organic food is healthier for us because it is free of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers and because there is significant evidence that it contains higher levels of nutrients. Further, we select for nutrient value and taste rather than for transportability, uniformity of size, and shelf life.
In addition to providing more nutritious food, this type of farming creates jobs (it is labor intensive rather than reliant on chemicals), it frees up land for implementation of good environmental practices (like buffer strips, cover crops and fallow periods), it can help us grow a Maryland economy (because Marylanders will be paying Marylanders rather than Californians, Floridians, Canadians and Mexicans to grow our food for us), and it can even have, in the collective sense, an impact on American health care costs as well as on the tremendous energy costs of our existing industrial agricultural model (under which the average food miles traveled by your food is 1,200 miles – and 1,500 miles if it is fresh produce).
In order to have a positive impact on the people who eat our food and on the Goldsborough Creek, the Chesapeake Bay, and the environment generally, we have adopted a number of practices including the following:
(i) We are a USDA certified organic producer of vegetables and herbs. (Our certifier is the Maryland Department of Agriculture.) We purchase and use only certified organic seeds, compost, and fertilizers. We use no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or fungicides on our fields or our products. Because pesticides are not used, our food crops produce their own natural pesticide – antioxidants.
(ii) We grow many heirloom vegetables where available in order to preserve disappearing varieties which have been grown for flavor and nutritional value – like the Spears Tennessee Green tomato grown by the Spears family in Tennessee, or the Peacevine cherry tomato which is so named because of its high levels of calming amino acids.
(iii) We have installed on the Farm over fifty acres of Conservation Reserve practices including an eighteen acre wetland which is a habitat for teal, black duck and other disappearing native waterfowl; thirty acres of warm season grass buffers around all fields to prevent water, sediment, nitrogen and phosphorous runoff as well as provide habitat for the disappearing native quail; two acres of native trees and shrubs on the water’s edge; over twenty acres of cover crops; and almost ten acres of meadows.
(iv) We regularly conduct soil tests with the goal of not applying excess nitrogen, phosphorus or major or micro nutrients on the land; plant cover crops such as crimson clover, rye and barley to absorb excess nutrients and prevent runoff, and plant green manure crops, all so that we can build healthy soil instead of growing food in soil that has been depleted by synthetic additives.
(v) In an effort to reduce the average food-miles traveled in this country, we do not sell our foods more than one hundred miles from the Farm and we require our buyers to do the same.
(vi) We use 100% recycled and recyclable plastic pint and quart containers, and our cardboard boxes and other produce containers are returned by our customers for reuse by us.
(vii) Most importantly, we are working to get more delicious organic vegetables on our community’s plates!