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The mission of the Chesapeake Agriculture Innovation Center (CAIC) is to provide value-added agriculture and aquaculture producers in Maryland and Delaware with the advice, guidance, technology, and other resources that they need to scale their businesses to a viable level of success. This will ensure a secure living for producers and sufficient nutritious, local food that is readily available to consumers.


CAIC’s primary goal is to promote the use of innovation and technology to solve real-world problems in the value-added agriculture and aquaculture sector. We do this by offering services that are organized in three pillars; 1) Producers Business Resources, 2) Producers Startup Program, and 3) Producers Growth Program.


The first pillar is the Producers Business Services, a series of business services tailored to meet the needs of businesses at all stages, from idea-stage to growth-stage. These services include business consultations, feasibility studies, business plans, marketing plans, grant writing services, legal support, and new value-added product development. Our experienced staff and consultants work closely with businesses to identify their specific needs and develop customized strategies to help them achieve their goals.


The second pillar is the Producers Startup Program, a 6-week virtual course designed to provide foundational knowledge and skills to idea- and early-stage businesses. This program is available seven times per year, allowing for frequent enrollment opportunities that ensure a business can register at any time and receive the support when they need it.


The third pillar is the Producers Growth Program, offered once a year, accepting Value-Added Producers that are already operating, have traction, and are ready to scale their businesses. This program is designed to provide an elevated level of training and technical assistance to businesses that have already established themselves in the market and are looking to conquer the next chapter of their operations.



CAIC’s long-range goal is to establish a national hub for innovation and technology in agriculture and aquaculture value-added products. This facility will have the resources necessary to develop and test prototypes of new products, processes, and technologies.

Board of advisors

George Class-Peters

Delaware Department of Agriculture

Audrey Broomfield

Maryland Department of Agriculture 

Holly Porter
Delmarva Chicken Association

Lindsay Thompson
Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board

John Torres
Maryland Farm Bureau

Shelby Watson-Hampton
Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Corporation

Donald Webster
Maryland Aquaculture Coordinating Council

Don Clifton
Delaware Farm Bureau

Roxanne Wolf
Shore Gourmet

Dave Marvel

Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association of Delaware



Emiliano Espinosa

Program Director

Oversees all CAIC programs, including recruiting, delivery, and fundraising activities

Pamela foulke

Social Media and Event Coordinator

CAIC social media manager and  event coordinator

Doug Holly

Senior Advisor

Provides guidance on strategic planning and partnership development

Lydia Hall

Communications Manager

In charge of all CAIC’s communication including the newsletter and the website

Amanda Kidd

Program Manager

In charge of delivery of CAIC’s core programs. Working with instructors to continually improve CAIC’s content and delivery

Ysabel Sanchez

Administrative Assistant

Troubleshooting tech issues for farmers, keeping information organized and keeping the CAIC grounded

Kimberly Raikes

AgriBiz Hub Community Moderator

Helping build the AgriBiz Hub community and making sure all farmers and value-added producers feel welcomed

Program Instructors and Advisors

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Al Renzi

Value-Added Program

Created an artisanal goat cheese business and Grade A yogurt operation


Catherine Renzi

Value-Added Program

Created an artisanal goat cheese business and Grade A yogurt operation

Kat Pascal

Kat Pascal

Startup Program

Business consultant and social entrepreneur based in Roanoke, Virginia

Brian Brown

Brian Brown

Emerging Program

CAIC lead business consultant; experienced in business operations, finances, and economic development

Lindsay's picture

Lindsay Gilmour

Food Safety Training

Chef and food systems consultant and educator

Sam Zappas

Growth Program Advisor

Expert in intellectual property, investment, and business growth

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Jeff Landsman

Growth Program Advisor

Veteran food broker, manufacturer, importer, and distributor accross the Mid-Atlantic


Mini-Grants up to $5,000 are available for:
– Market Research and Validation of Target Market
– Customer Acquisition
– Product Development Initiatives
– Food Safety Classes
Value-added producers and companies with traction ($20,000 or more in yearly revenue) in Maryland and Delaware are eligible to apply for Mini-Grants. Participants may apply once for each of the categories. Applicants must demonstrate that they have a unique and differentiated product or service that incorporates an aspect of innovation or technology in its production, processing, distribution, or other element of the food supply system.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Award decisions will be made and funds will be available no later than three weeks following the receipt of a completed application.
Application Process
Applicants must submit Mini-Grant proposals by filling out the form at this link. Copy(ies) of quote(s), proposal(s), estimate(s), or any other supporting documents.


CAIC offers access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who can offer authoritative advice based on their deep knowledge and experience in a specific area. See the ADVISORS page of this Web site to learn more about the SMEs who are available to CAIC participants.