Skip to Main Content

Historic Sotterley Plantation creating a community gathering hub thanks to $27,580 grant

HOLLYWOOD, MD –Towns are so much more than their geography, infrastructure and streets. Often the difference between simply a place to live and actually bonding to that place is how and where the people living there gather, share and learn. Shared interests, attitudes and that sense of fellowship breathes life into the place, transforming a town into a community.

The leadership at Historic Sotterley Plantation, located in Hollywood, Md., understands the transformational power of community gathering places. For more than 300 years, it has been creating a living link to America’s history through more than 20 historic buildings on its property as well as its working farm. Until this past spring, it lacked a covered outdoor pavilion hub for programming that could be cross-purposed for the farm’s seasonal farmer’s market.

Historic Sotterley Plantation can now check that off its list of strategic goals, thanks to a $27,580.96 grant from the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund (MAERDAF), which is administered by the Rural Maryland Council (RMC). In addition to funding the construction of the covered outdoor pavilion, the grant enabled the organization to install a well, which will make their current irrigation system more efficient.

“Our mission’s focus is being an educational and cultural center. Finding a place to gather or provide programming has always been challenging,” says Nancy Easterling, executive director. “With this new pavilion we have a great opportunity to become that important resource in the community where people gather and learn. Our programming has a lot of crossovers regardless of the subject matter so we have all kinds of wonderful consequences as a result. The pavilion enhances our visitor experience and allows us to better serve our visitors, which will touch thousands of people in years to come,” she adds.

The Sotterley Farmer’s Market vendors set up in their new home, a covered outdoor pavilion at Historic Sotterley Plantation, which completed its first season in use. The pavilion also serves as a program and event area. The pavilion was built thanks to a grant from the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund (MAERDAF), which is administered by the Rural Maryland Council (RMC).

Despite the fact that the pavilion has completed its first season of use, it has already made a huge difference for Historic Sotterley Plantation. “From the first few weeks of opening the pavilion we were able to see an immediate impact to our community and organization. I can’t wait to see how it will add to what we can achieve in the future,” says Joe Goldsmith, facilities and farm manager.
The Rural Maryland Council also found the project’s sustainable regional impact attractive. “Two of the things that our grant committee looks for when they review grant applications is if the project has a sustainable quality and if it has regional impact,” says Charlotte Davis, RMC’s executive director. “The outdoor pavilion is no doubt becoming that community gathering place to learn and to share and will continue to create impact,” she adds.
The Historic Sotterley grant was one of 34 Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund (MAERDAF) grants totaling $680,515, which were distributed to 32 organizations in fiscal year 2018. MAERDAF was established in 2000 to offer financial assistance to rural nonprofits organizations that promote statewide and regional planning, economic and community development, and agricultural and forestry education. In addition, MAERDAF offers grants to community colleges that support small and agricultural businesses with enhanced training and technical assistance.

The covered outdoor pavilion provided an easy and smooth admissions process for the recent Riverside Winefest at Historic Sotterley Plantation. The pavilion was funded through a $27,580.96 grant from the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund.

Founded in 1994, the Rural Maryland Council serves as the state’s federally designated rural development council and functions as a voice for rural Maryland, advocating for and helping rural communities and businesses across the state to flourish and to gain equity to its suburban and urban counterparts. To learn more call (410) 841-5774, email or connect with the Rural Maryland Council at or on Twitter @RuralMaryland.