We're a small scale, diversified farm nestled in the mountains outside Frederick, Maryland. We love to grow the unusual: aromatic culinary herbs, funky fruits, and other things that catch our fancy.
The farm is a collaboration between grower, Laura Genello, and artist, David Sleightholm. We love learning new things, and hope to share what we learn through both our mistakes and successes.
We broke ground on Dandelion & Rust in 2019, and since then, the farm has grown from a couple of beds of garlic to a quarter acre of mixed veggies, herbs, and flowers. We love experimenting and learning as we go, and are always trying new crops or ideas.
How we Grow
I'm not the only one who has ever been drawn into farming by the allure of natural ecosystems and a wonder at the inter-connectivity of all life. Nature is pretty damn cool, and the relationships between the fungi, plants, insects, soil organisms, and other life on the farm are a testament to the beauty of the planet. Sustainability must mean more than just environmental protection; we must also promote just social systems and economically viable businesses. With this in mind, we aim to go beyond relationships that are merely sustainable, and instead be regenerative.
We are not certified organic, but we grow in a similar manner, striving to create robust, resilient ecosystems. This means working with internal nutrient cycling and pest suppression as much as possible. When we do apply pest control, we use the organic standards as a guide, and apply products that (at minimum) are OMRI listed. This often includes things like biological control (for example, releasing nematodes to combat soil-based pests), or pest deterrents, such as clay-based sprays that make leaves unpalatable to pest species.
Our practices include using low tillage methods to work the soil, embracing compost, planting our aisles with clover to reduce erosion, and reducing plastic use by using paper and natural mulches as much as possible.
We are not perfect. Our work is a continual process of learning and refinement. We hope that through transparency of our practices, our successes and our failures, we can share the lessons we learn along the way.
Meet the Farmers
Laura Genello first caught the farming bug during an apprenticeship on a vegetable farm in Rhode Island. Laura has worked in local food systems for over 10 years. She has run farmers markets in DC, managed an educational, aquaponics farm in Baltimore, and currently works for Baltimore City Public Schools as a Farm to School Specialist. Enjoying being in her head nearly as much as being in the field, Laura has a masters in organic agriculture from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and a bachelors in environmental science from Brown University.
After years of working to support farmers, Dandelion & Rust is Laura's opportunity to give it a try for herself. Laura often enlists the help and support of her husband, Dave.
David Sleightholm (Dave) is an artist specializing in mixed media sculpture. Most of his time is dedicated to his business, Sleightholm Arts, for which he creates one of a kind furniture. He brings his incredible problem solving and engineering skills to the farm, along with his impressive tool library. He also encourages Laura to stop overthinking and just get shit done.