As part of the weekly blog post series, Maryland FarmLINK occasionally features an interview with a local farmer or local food advocate.
If we want to create a different food system, where regionally-based agricultural systems can thrive, my hope is that we value more models like Chesapeake’s Bounty. This interview is with Will Kreamer, owner and operator of Chesapeake’s Bounty in St. Leonard and North Beach. Highlighting the health, environmental, and economic benefits of local food, the Bounty sells a wide range of products year-round, all from local farmers and watermen. They seek new and innovative ways of connecting producers with steady markets, while considering the ecological consequences of food production. The St. Leonard location also operates a farm work-share program and community education workshops.
This post is part two of a two-part interview. Click here to read part 1.
Maryland FarmLINK: What is a project or result you are most proud of?
Will: I like the Mix and Match baskets we offer. Customers can choose from three different sized baskets, each with a set price, and then fill them with any produce from a “Mix and Match” section of produce in the store. Our customers love the baskets. The Mix & Match baskets are working at the new location in North Beach too. When we started at North beach this summer, we had to teach just about every customer, and now they bring their friends, and explain it to them.
I would also say that I am proud of our effort towards more sustainable farming and community education programs. I feel blessed to be able to have the staff and the resources to open up the farm up to provide those programs free of charge, and to try to heal the land here.
Maryland FarmLINK: Perfect transition! Let’s talk more about the work-share program and community workshops you offer at the St. Leonard location. What is this education important for you to offer?
Will: The PCSA, Participatory Community Supported Agriculture, and workshops are open to all ages, including children who seem to have a really good time coming out on the community work days. What we are doing here on the farm is providing an opportunity for people to come out and learn basic skills that we have forgotten over the past few generations, skills about how to grow food and to do so using minimal resources. Growing your own food is kind of like printing your own money. I like that we are supporting a lot of local farms, but people need to grow more of their own food too. It is not in our long-term financial interest, but we have to start looking beyond our own interests.
The food we grow here is important for people who have a source of income, but it is very important for people who don’t. And that’s really where we are going to put our focus in the coming years, trying to get more folks out here who might barely be getting by and don’t have enough food to put on the table. If they can dedicate a half hour, an hour, or a couple hours on the farm and learn some things, they can harvest all the food they want to take home with them. The food is here waiting.
Maryland FarmLINK: Can you explain some of the farming methods you’ve researched and implemented at Chesapeake’s Bounty?
Will: We need to plant more food forests. We should focus on planting more trees that are harvest-grade variety, such as hickory, basswood, and butternut. We need to bring back other trees like the new hybrid American chestnuts that are disease resistant and almost 100% genetically identical to the original American chestnut. Our ecosystem has completely changed with the loss of the American chestnut, from the content of the soil to the health of wetlands. It has also changed the health of our human and animal populations, as it’s an important food source.
Down here, we could also grow the English walnut and harvest the syrup as a substitute for maple syrup, to have our own locally grown syrup. That would be great.
Maryland FarmLINK: People are busy, and don’t always stop to think about their food choices. What is the main take-away you hope people get when they leave your store?
Will: We have pictures and descriptions of all of our farms and farmers in the stores and online and we’re really hoping that people are looking at those and seeing fairly quickly that everything we sell is local.
Maryland FarmLINK: How can individuals become more involved in your organization?
Will: Like guerilla gardener Ron Finley is famous for saying, “You want to hang with me, come to the garden, with your shovel,” but really– just show up! Come to the farm, if you can call it a farm, and come to the market and we will talk. There is a lot going on here.
Maryland FarmLINK: Is there anything else you want FarmLINK readers to know?
Will: We need more food forests– period. We need to get ahead of the game, and we have the land and the climate here to do so.