Hybridoma Organic Fruit Farm (13734 Baldwin Mill Road, Baldwin MD 21013) is a 50 acre farm in the Long Green Valley area of Baltimore County, Maryland (USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 7). The farm was certified organic by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and in recent years has maintained its registered organic status. It has been placed into an agricultural easement with the Maryland Environmental Trust to protect it from development in the future. Hybridoma is dedicated to faithful stewardship of this farmland, emphasizing biodiversity, sustainability and natural fertilization and pest control. A concurrent mission is educational: to share knowledge about fruit production using organic techniques.
Currently, thirteen acres are planted with 21 varieties of high-bush blueberries, and approximately four more acres -- the "bramble area" -- are dedicated to black raspberries, blackberries, and experimental plots of currants and gooseberries. In 2019 we have added approximately 250 new blueberry plants to the field.
The origin of the farm was an "organic" process: Beginning in 1995, Hybridoma's owner R.G. Hamilton experimented with a spectrum of vegetables, evergreen (Eastern White Pine, Colorado Blue Spruce) trees, redbud trees, and fruits (blueberries, raspberries and strawberries) grown in plots to determine which varieties would be selected for future years. While the evergreen and the redbud trees grew well and could have formed the basis of a Christmas tree farm or a landscaping nursery, the farmer felt that it was boring to observe their slow growth. More importantly, the idea of cutting down what had been a labor of love in growth and nurturing was not a tenable option. Since the farmer came originally from Michigan where blueberries are common, blueberries became one focus of the early years of farm development.
2011 was an exciting year for Hybridoma! Besides the construction of the new berry shed, this was the first year the farm welcomed the public for a full season of "pick your own" berries. The website was established which expanded community presence for the farm. In 2011, 2400 pounds of blueberries were picked by patrons.
The name "Hybridoma: originates from an immunology laboratory procedure that was awarded a Nobel Prize. The technique involves the production of specialized antibodies from selected lymphocytes (white blood cells) that are fused or hybridized together. Following hybridization, only those cells producing the unique antibody of interest are selected and expanded for large scale antibody production. These antibodies are of high quality and currently they are used throughout the USA and Europe in medical research and in routine hospital laboratory testing assays. The hybridoma work of the farmer has provided funds to establish and expand the Hybridoma Organic Fruit Farm, since immunology is the other life passion of the farmer who works at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Hybridoma is a unique word that also reflects the concept of different hybrids being planted onto the farm. Thus, the name Hybridoma Organic Fruit Farm was born.
Patrons who come to the farm will see a number of venues. First, a Riparian buffer project was established in 2013 together with the State of Maryland Forestry Service. This involves planting ~500 fruit and nut trees along the stream to reduce erosion of soil into the stream Second, a 40 kilowatt per hour solar voltaic system that was installed. With this system, Hybridoma is now an electricity generating facility which puts alternating current into the grid and is self-sustaining with regard to its electricity use. There is a new spice-herb and lavender experience garden for the children that allows them to touch and smell different scents. We also sell 2 year highbush blueberry plants and lavender plants with varieties that grow well in this region of the USA.
We look forward to your visit and encourage families with children of all ages to visit. Whether your children choose to visit the swing and slide playground area that has been established just for them, or venture into the field to pick organically grown berries, we welcome you all with open arms.
Robert and Eva, Owners, Hybridoma Organic Fruit Farm
. Plan to pick either early morning or later in the day; our open fields provide little shade and the sun can be strong. The early picker gets the best berries!
· Come early on the weekend. Depending how many people join us, the currently ripe berry crop could be quickly picked out. To repeat, the early bird gets the best berry!
· We don't spray, but you might want to -- don't forget sunscreen and/or bug spray.
· Hybridoma staff will direct you to the current picking area. Just about everybody starts picking as soon as they arrive at the edges of this area. Be bold -- go deeper into the field before you begin to pick!
· Pick only the darkest and mature berries that give to the touch -- blueberries and raspberries do not continue to ripen after they are picked.
· Get high and go low -- everyone starts with the low-hanging fruit, i.e. berries right at eye level. Some of the largest berries, however, are hidden below and behind leafy vegetation. It is very restful to sit on the ground and pick!
· Please pick all the ripe berries you can find from one bush before moving on to another. This is important for the plants' health and continued productivity.
· Please watch out for wildlife! Sometimes wasps, hornets and other stinging insects build their nests inside the bushes, and these pesty critters also love to snack on berries just like we do -- look before you pick! The farm's resident groundhogs also dig their holes, so please be careful while you are walking. Finally, despite our best efforts to keep things trim and tidy, poison ivy and other irritant plants like mile-a-minute vine can get into our fields. Leaves of three, let it be!
· Children are welcome to use the swings, clipper ship and slide-play house.