Maryland Traditions Folklife Area
local food systems and organic agriculture
photo courtesy of the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University
Jay Martin began gardening organically in 1973 in upstate New York. In 1980 he moved with his family to Bivalve, Maryland, where he worked as a waterman. He and his wife, Kathy, later started Silver Seed Greenhouses, a major supplier of organic transplants for the Mid-Atlantic region. Silver Seed was the first and only certified organic, wholesale greenhouse operation in Maryland. While running Silver Seed, Martin also cultivated an acre garden for the farmers’ market in Salisbury. He sold Silver Seed Greenhouses in 2001 to create Provident Organic Farm, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm, and pursue his dream of a safe, just, and sustainable food system for this region.
Martin has been an active member of the agricultural community of Delmarva for many years, participating in farmers’ markets and running CSAs that serve different areas. Martin’s direct connections to the other farmers and farms of the region have made him an outstanding spokesperson for the community and the region as a whole, including the current movement in the area toward organic certification and other approaches to creating sustainable agricultural models. Martin later moved away from certified organic farming, instead preferring a standard he refers to as “face certification” (as opposed to organic certification) to describe the importance of eating locally and establishing a direct relationship between farmers and consumers. This face-to-face model creates an environment of trust and faith, ensuring that people are aware of where their food comes from and how it is grown.