Maryland Black Farmers Business Accelerator Finalists

Meet our candidates, and learn more about their work.
1st Place - $35,000 grant

Ali Simeto

Geb-Ra Organics

headshot of Ali Simeto outdoors against a wall with white siding
As a certified solar installer, climate change activist and designer, Ali Simeto has developed multiple projects focusing on green energy. Ali has more than 20 years of experience managing his own clothing and graphic design company and using those skills in the tech arena. Geb-Ra Organics is an Aquaponics farming startup, a producer of fish and vegetables with a public and private school system training program.

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2nd Place - $25,000 grant

Crystal Levine


headshot of Crystal Levine in a doorway
Crystal Levine is the founder and CEO of CodaBax, an employment social enterprise operating at the intersection of gender, economic and social justice. CodaBax aims to eradicate barriers to employment faced by women who have been affected by the justice system, are unhoused, aged out of foster care or are chronically unemployed or underemployed.

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3rd Place - $10,000 grant

Ashley Drakeford

The Capital Market

headshot of Ashley Drakeford wearing a Capital Market t-shirt against a white background
Ashley Drakeford is a sixth-generation resident of Prince George’s County and graduate of North Carolina A&T State University. Since 2019, Ashley has served as a co-organizer for The Capital Market, a community initiative that provides healthy, affordable food, supports businesses and farms owned and operated by people of color, and advocates for equitable and culturally-aware food systems. She manages relationships with farmers and other small businesses, spearheads community events and leads agricultural education programming.

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Finalist - $1,000 stipend

Doug Adams

New Brooklyn Farms

headshot of Doug Adams in front of a vine with fall-colored leaves
Doug Adams is an urban farming entrepreneur and advocate, originally from Prince George's County. In 2016, he purchased and transformed a blighted quarter-acre vacant lot in his hometown of Mount Rainier into New Brooklyn Farms, an urban farm and green event space. In 2019, he spearheaded a grassroots effort to co-develop and establish special legislation expanding urban farming to 80% of Prince George’s County, including the New Brooklyn Farms site.
New Brooklyn Farms allocates part of its space to a farmer-in-residence program that provides free seasonal growing and retail accommodation to underserved food entrepreneurs.

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Finalist - $1,000 stipend

Richard Francis

Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm

headshot of Richard Francis in an indoor setting
Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm provides high quality and sustainable agricultural products to the park Heights community and the Greater Baltimore area. Richard (Farmer Chippy) Francis is a former GE life sciences engineer who has been growing food on vacant lots in Baltimore for more than eight years. Farmer Chippy is devoted to bringing cleaner, greener foods to children at risk in underserved communities. He and his squad are building AgriHoodBaltimore, a marketplace and urban agriculture training center.

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