Jack and Beckie Gurley have been farming certified organic vegetables at Calvert’s Gift Farm since 1994. The Gurleys grow a wide selection of vegetables, herbs, cut flowers and fruit on 5 acres in Sparks, MD. They sell their produce at farmers markets, local restaurants and through their CSA.
The Gurleys are active members of the sustainable farming community in the Chesapeake, and have long served as key board members of Future Harvest CASA. The Gurleys were instrumental in helping us launch the Beginner Farmer Training Program, which provides aspiring farmers with hands-on field experience and classroom training, exposing them to the many aspects of running a successful farm.
Each season, the Gurleys mentor a new class of beginning farmers, guiding them through everything from harvesting salad mix to effective marketing techniques. Noting the importance of the program for beginning and established farmers alike, Jack says: "This trainee program is not about training our competition. We think of it as self-preservation. The locally grown movement is big now, but it will only work if there are enough small local farms growing what people want. It's a lot of work, but it can be done."