When Kelly Carneal worked in Baltimore County's agricultural preservation office 10 years ago, she heard talk about a future center that would assist farmers by providing federal, state and county agricultural agencies under one roof.
In the years following, Carneal worked in other positions including as director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture's farmland preservation program. However, she returned to Maryland in time to attend the 2010 opening of the Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture.
Fast forward to spring 2012 and the newly married Kelly Carneal Dudeck was hired as executive director of the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council, a nonprofit group whose aim is to foster agricultural land conservation and provide educational activities at the ag center so visitors understand and appreciate farms and farmers.
"There are lots of types of farming, but a farmer is a farmer is a farmer, and we're here to help them by being a resource for them as well as for the community and children," said Dudeck, a Catonsville resident who was also previously director of rural lands for 1000 Friends of Maryland, dedicated to preserving Maryland by encouraging sensible growth.
The resource council has already organized seminars for farmers on estate taxes and estate planning, and the group hopes to hold "Ask the Expert" speaker series on farming and gardening topics. It also administers a beginner farmer program, which attracted 11 trainees this year.
"Kelly has a statewide perspective on agriculture and environmental issues," said Kevin Atticks, Maryland Agricultural Resource Council board member and executive director of Maryland Wineries Association. "She's very comfortable in Annapolis and very comfortable with boards and memberships of different organizations."
Both the resource council and the ag center recently planted demonstration pastures along the front of the center's 149 acres. They planted grasses not typically found in Baltimore County and will bring in farmers to show them how the grasses fared, giving farmers more options when creating pastures for their livestock.
"Kelly and I work together every day and she is ideally suited to this job," said Chris McCollum, the ag center's executive director. "She places high value on agricultural preservation and keeping farmers farming."
The nonprofit Maryland Agricultural Resource Council relies on fundraisers, donations and grants for funding. To that end, the council is holding a Full Moon Shindig with food, music and dancing on Sept. 28 at the ag center from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are $85.
It is also hosting a Family Farm Day on Oct. 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the center. The event will feature music, a farmers market, carriage rides, food, beer and wine. Tickets are $10 per carload.
The Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture is located at 1114 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley.
To learn more about MARC or the fundraisers, go to http://www.marylandagriculture.org.