maroon wave
Courtney Cohen

Cohen '12 Goes from Planting Gardens on SU Campus to Owning Farming Enterprise

SALISBURY, MD---Courtney Cohen ’12 spent years trying to convince herself that she couldn’t start her own farm. But deep down, she knew it was what she always wanted. She just needed to take the leap.

When she put her mind to the task, she was surprised by just how much she could accomplish. Now, she is the owner of her own farm, Spore and Seed in Baltimore County, MD.

“I tried other jobs, moving all over the country, but it always came back to the same wants and desires, not just for my career but my lifestyle,” Cohen said. “It certainly is not easy, but I feel so genuinely fulfilled by the life that I have been able to build for myself.”

Since graduating from Salisbury University’s Environmental Studies Program, Cohen’s journey to forge her career took her all over the country, from the foothills of Appalachia to the peony fields of Alaska. Eventually, she decided it was time to follow her inner drive and start her own enterprise from the ground up.

Now in its fifth season, Spore and Seed produces fresh cut flowers, dried flower products and mushrooms, and provides for the community through farmers markets, community-supported agriculture, a co-op, restaurant sales, design work and educational workshops.

“Being my own boss and having autonomy over my business has been the greatest gift,” Cohen said. “I’m grateful for all the experiences that informed me to get here.”

When Cohen was a senior at SU, she took an organic farming class taught by Jay Martin, who owned his own farm in Bivalve, MD. The experience lit a fire in her. It was then she realized that farming was her true passion – and that it was something she could do, too.

“To see someone who had been successfully running their own farm switched something in my brain,” Cohen said. “I’m a hands-on learner, and I received so much value from that semester at his farm.”

At the time, the class felt like a weekly field trip. Now, Cohen realizes how much those lessons and experiences have stayed with her. Seeing Martin’s innovation in practice, such as creating opportunities and diversity through the Camden Market, helped her learn the importance of community support and aligning one’s ethics with their business.

As a farmer and as a person, Cohen has come a long way from tending the container gardens on SU’s campus. The connections she made and the opportunities she took advantage of during those days continue to enrich her life.

“SU gave me community and opportunity,” Cohen said. “Whatever it is you are interested in, you can delve deeper and find like-minded individuals to further your curiosity.”

Learn more about opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website