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What do Southern Maryland Meats, Bourbon, and Alpacas all have in common?  

What do Southern Maryland Meats, Bourbon, and Alpacas all have in common?  

July 31st! SMADC is hosting an evening for the public to celebrate Maryland’s farms and food at the Buy Local Challenge 10th Anniversary Celebration Event – Southern Maryland Style!

The event is planned for July 31st in Brandywine, Md, and will feature tastings of local farm products , a locally sourced Southern Maryland style buffet dinner, live music, lawn games, clydesdales, and the opportunity to purchase from Maryland farmers, producers, artisans, and crafters.

Southern Maryland farms will be featured, and include sampling of fruits, vegetables, meats, wine, distilled spirits, ice cream, baked goods, and more.

Vendors such as Dicot Farm of Charles County will sample fresh produce from their farm, while you can taste wine and wine infused cupcakes from Romano Vineyard and Winery and others in Prince George’s county, and purchase local meats from R & H Farms in St. Mary’s County. Spider Hall farm will also join us from Calvert county with their famous ‘Miss Moo’s’ ice cream!

This is a ticketed event – tickets must be purchased in advance, so don’t delay!

  • $25 for 21 and over (those able to sample wines & spirits at the event. ID will be checked at the door as necessary and the appropriate armband issued)
  • $20 for youth under 20 and adults not sampling wine/spirits/beer
  • Kids 5 and under free
  • Locally Sourced Southern Maryland Style Buffet Dinner
  • Vendor Sampling Pass (Sample all vendors, then drop your completed pass into the raffle box for a chance to win local goodies!)
  • Commemorative Buy Local Insulated Tote Bag – to keep your tasty farm food purchases cool between farm and fridge.

A huge thank you to our event sponsors: Grow & Fortify, MARBIDCO, Maryland’s Best, Maryland Farm Bureau, the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundaiton, R&D Cross, and the Rural Maryland Council. Tickets are still available while supplies lasts. Purchase tickets here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SMADC Appoints New Chairman of the Board

SMADC Appoints New Chairman of the Board

Since 2001, SMADC has operated at the behest of a team of board members comprised of representatives from different agriculture sectors who provide updates, information and recommendations to the board to assist the Southern Maryland agriculture industry. This April, SMADC appointed a new Chairman, Yates Clagett, to oversee the 19 member board– and in May, Yates officially kicked off the board meeting.

Photo credit: Kim Rush-Lynch
Chair, Yates Clagett and Director, Shelby Watson-Hampton at a recent board meeting. Photo credit: board member, Kim Rush-Lynch.

As a former tobacco producer who transitioned to cattle, Yates understands the history of SMADC, where it has come from and where it is headed. Yates was born and raised on a 300 acre farm, and his family still manages over 500 acres of farmland. He transitioned to livestock production 2006, and began selling grass fed and finished beef to retail customers. In addition to his new role at SMADC, Yates works for the Prince George’s Soil Conservation District and manages all agricultural programs, including the Land Preservation Programs. He is the county’s Farm Bureau President, and has served on numerous state and local agricultural boards. He is a Volunteer Fire Fighter and Assistant Varsity Lacrosse Coach at The Calverton School.

“As a long-time SMADC board member, and a Southern Maryland farmer, I look forward to serving as Chairman of the board,” said Yates. “After 16 years, SMADC has refocused and redefined our mission to evolve with the Southern Maryland agricultural economy as it continues to grow. I’m excited to lead the board and to take on new initiatives to help farmers continue to transition and increase profitability.”

Previous Chairmen include, Earl “Buddy” Hance, former Secretary of Agriculture; Charles Rice, Charles County Economic Development; and Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton.

Current members represent various industries, including: livestock, fruits and vegetables, equine, aquaculture, field crops, horticulture, agriculture businesses and services, elected officials, agritourism, land preservation, the Maryland Farm Bureau, agricultural marketing (AMPS), and Extension. Learn more about the SMADC board here.

 

SMADC debuts new logo!

SMADC debuts new logo!

There’s been a flurry of exciting updates at SMADC over the past month, including our latest announcement: the unveiling of a new logo!

The new logo brings together the origins of SMADC’s historic foundation in one colorful image. Showcasing the stewardship of our land and waterways– the iconic tobacco barn, the Chesapeake Bay, row crops, and that hot Maryland sun– all point to SMADC’s bright, new horizon!

The larger re-branding and marketing initiative we are currently undertaking, aims to increase awareness for our programs, making SMADC a household name for farmers, agribusiness and consumers. An important part of this
effort will be to update our website homepage to be more user-friendly; a one-stop-shop for farmers and consumers to find the resources they need.

And if you haven’t already noticed, we are increasing our marketing, promotions and outreach, and ramping up our social media presence. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with all things food and farming in Southern Maryland. Keep an eye out later this month too for our new monthly Newsletter: Farm Focus.

 

SMADC Announces New Director

SMADC Announces New Director

Shelby Watson Hampton-photocredit-EdwinRemsberg
Photo credit Edwin Remsberg

The Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) is pleased to announce new Director, Shelby Watson-Hampton. Shelby is a Southern Maryland farmer, an Agricultural Marketing Specialist, and an active member of the Maryland farming community. In her previous position at the Maryland Department of Agriculture, she worked in the Marketing Department promoting and marketing Maryland products, farmers, and farmers markets, as well as running the Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

Shelby is an active member of many agricultural associations and committees. She also farms on her family farm in Brandywine, Maryland, where they grow wine grapes and host private events in their barn venue. Shelby is a 2007 graduate of the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and a 2015 Graduate Fellow of the LEAD Maryland Class VIII.

When asked about her new position, she replied, “I am so honored, grateful, and excited to have this opportunity to work for the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission. As Director, my mission will be to work towards fostering a truly cohesive farming community in Southern Maryland, which brings out the best in all farmers and all production types. We need every farm we have; large, small, conventional, organic, traditional, niche, agritourism and value-added. It takes all agricultural types to have a diverse and successful farming economy.”

“As an individual with family farms in both Prince George’s and Charles Counties, ties to the Southern Maryland farming community across all five counties, and an affinity for promoting an inclusive and cooperative atmosphere, I will strive to continue and to expand the tradition of a strong and prosperous farming community in Southern Maryland.”

Shelby joins SMADC with a wealth of experience and commitment to the farming community in Southern Maryland. The Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland (TCCSMD) board, and the SMADC board and staff welcome Shelby as the newest manager of our Economic Development team. Shelby will start in her new position on March 6, 2017.

Happy New Year! Annual Report Published

Happy New Year! Annual Report Published

Happy New Year! January marks a good time to look back and reflect and look forward to the future. SMADC recently published its FY’16 End of Year Report (linked below).

Some FY’16 highlights include:

  • Maryland FarmLINK launched a new website (FarmLINK 2.0) with increased features for users
  • 581 new members signed-up for the FarmLINK website/Weekly Roundup; 55 Maryland FarmLINK “Weekly Roundup” newsletters were sent to 1,900 subscribers
  • 8 new farmer profiles launched Tomorrow’s Harvest website
  • The Southern Maryland Meat Processing Facility is underway and held public forums, focus group discussions, and invited public input
  • 47 producers participate in Southern Maryland Meats; and 68,760 pounds of frozen meat was transported at an estimated retail value of $395,920. Seven retail stores who host the Southern Maryland Meats freezer display cases reported sales of $201,413 (an increase of 10% from FY’15)
  • Launched a new website for the horse industry in Southern Maryland, “Hoofbeats Through History: The Southern Maryland Historic Horse Trail”, as one of a network of heritage ‘driving’ trails in development across the state; including 17 documented/equine-related destinations in So. MD
  • Provided marketing and support for Maryland’s Buy Local Challenge; the 2016 Farmers’ Market Guide listing of 30 So. MD Markets and 10 additional markets in MD, Metro DC and VA hosting Southern MD farm vendors; and the 2016 Farms for the Holiday’s Guide
  • Offered an Equipment Grant for local agencies to apply. Five new pieces for approved for funding.  37 pieces of equipment have been purchased and are available for farmers to rent across the region
  • SMADC funds for land preservation increased in FY’16 for a total of 16,257 cumulative acres over 14 years of funding. Combined with county and state funds, land preservation acreage in Southern Maryland amounts to 36,325 acres (320 farms) cumulatively
  • Provided administrative support to farmers markets in applying for grants for EBT/SNAP incentive funds

The full report is uploaded to the SMADC website on the “About SMADC” page Year End Reports linked here for your convenience: http://www.smadc.com/aboutsmadc/Report2016.pdf

We are halfway through FY’17, which has been a transitional time for the organization. During the first part of FY’17, many meetings, public forums, and a retreat with the board were held in order to determine the future. We thank the many who showed up to those meetings to provide input, or who wrote in or phoned with expressions for moving forward. Staff and board members have been busy working to address every single comment. Thank you for understanding the difficulties that are inherent in restructuring while continuing to operate at nearly full capacity. Onward and upward!

Note: We have the comment section of the blog turned off due to spam, but we welcome comments and questions to blog posts. Please connect with us anytime at info@marylandfarmlink.com or at 301-274-1922 x.1. 

 

Growing Quality Pastures to Raise Meats- On Farm ‘Grazing’ Workshop

Growing Quality Pastures to Raise Meats- On Farm ‘Grazing’ Workshop

The Maryland Grazers Network and Chesapeake Bay Foundation in partnership with the University of Maryland Extension and the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) held a workshop and pasture walk last week with a focus on producing and managing high quality pastures for cows, sheep and goats, to ensure excellent meat products and enhanced soil conservation.

grazers workshop
Michael Heller demonstrates his rotational grazing system to a group of livestock farmers.

Around 35 livestock farmers from around the region showed up at Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro on a warm evening to learn from experts about grazing livestock, particularly on summer forage. The workshop lasted for close to 6 hours and included ag researchers, ag marketing professionals, and experienced farmers who have mastered this system to share their best practices. Michael Heller, livestock farm manager at Clagett farm, hosted the group (and with charm and whit!) delivered  a tour, light meal (grass-fed burgers and ice cream of course), and introduced the knowledgeable folks he turned to when deciding to raise livestock 100% grass-fed livestock many years ago.  Farmers noted that had spoken with or knew of Mike Heller, but many said it was helpful to go to Mike’s farm and see in-person how he was implementing his systems for the first time.

Speakers represented USDA, University of Maryland Extension, Soil Conservation, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, NRCS, and SMADC’s Southern Maryland Meats. Programs like the Maryland Grazers Network and Maryland FarmLINK filled in throughout the night with opportunities for farmers. Most impressive, was that the speakers had first-hand experience in raising grass-fed meats, referencing their own proven techniques while also speaking to the research.

Click photo to watch video
Click photo to watch rainfall soil demo video.

It was great to see a workshop focused on helping a group of farmers from all over the spectrum- from experienced grass-fed farmers there to learn something new about summer forage annuals, to a slew of young farmers ready to try grass-fed livestock for the first time, to farmers who were ready to transition or were thinking about changes to their production system.

The workshop covered ratios of types of pasture from perennial pasture, mixed summer annuals, down to individual species such as cow peas, sunn hemp, millet, sudex, tillage radish, etc. Just like in vegetable production, soil health is imperative to grass-fed livestock systems. Yates Claggett, Soil Conservation, showed different crops and grasses affect on soil health based on a rainfall simulator demonstration.

Another demonstration showcased on how synthetic fertilizers are absorbed into the soils and plants in pastures and how bare soils and shallow root systems intensify run-off. Steve Darcey, the District Manager for Prince Georges Soil Conservation District, spoke of the importance of how our farming practices can benefit or harm our soils.  Steve, Maryland’s first Soil Health Champion with NACD, said that a 1% increase in soil organic matter allowed the soil to hold an additional inch of rain which has tremendous benefits for pastures and crops.  Lastly, the workshop covered best practices to marketing, labeling and selling meats (click here to view PDF Slides).

If you’re interested in more information, check out the The Grazers Network, Southern Maryland Meats, and  the Amazing Grazing Directory. Would you be interested in a poultry workshop?  Let us know at info@marylandfarmlink.com.

Setting the stage for a flourishing future by Christine Bergmark

Setting the stage for a flourishing future by Christine Bergmark

By: Christine Bergmark, Executive Director, Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission

Looking back over 15 years of the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission, I am filled with pride. We, the farmers, consumers, SMADCvisionaries, staff and volunteers, have accomplished so much. Sixteen years ago, few could have envisioned Southern Maryland agriculture without tobacco. But the new crops, new markets, farm innovations, and consumer demand that followed gave hope with each fresh planting season that agriculture was and would continue to be vibrant in Southern Maryland.

New industries have flourished. Who could have imagined that our wineries would take hold?  That the Buy Local Challenge we created would have been picked up in so many other states? Who in 1999 could have seen that countless consumers would be willing to pay a little more for great locally produced meats? And that agritourism would teach a new generation of children about food and farms?

BLCWe at SMADC held fast to the vision, but never could we have imagined that the new markets would be so welcoming. With a staff of 4, sometimes 5, and volunteer commissioners numbering 17, we were nimble, responsive, forward-thinking and in some ways, a laboratory for innovation for the state.

Now, as SMADC enters a new era, I encourage you all, one last time, to realize how the choices that we make every day –as legislators, county officials, tax payers and consumers- impact the future of our farms. I urge you to continue the good work that has helped evolve our farms and agriculture towards a great future.

Selling local farm products through food hubs- new national report

Selling local farm products through food hubs- new national report

msu

This blog is the first in a two-part series on selling local farm products through outside distribution channels like food hubs. This week, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, along with The Wallace Center, released the 2015 National Food Hub Survey findings, which indicates that the food hub model can be financially successful across a variety of legal structures and geographic or customer markets.national_food_hub_survey_2015

Food hubs are businesses that aggregate and distribute source-identified food products, i.e. food that carries it’s farm name through the supply chain. As consumer interest in local and regional foods grows, the market for food hub services also grows. The findings of this report, together with the 2013 National Food Hub Survey, are the beginning of a data set that tracks what food hubs look like and what impacts they are having across the United States. What I found of most importance in the findings is that, 90% of food hubs who responded are increasing market access for small and medium farms as part of their daily operations. With many small farms judgling off-farm jobs and limited budgets, this is good news for those who are trying to be a farmer, a marketer, and a distributor.

National Food Hub Findings
Snapshot of key findings. Click to expand text.

“Food hubs bring great opportunity, but they face unique challenges that will require investment and innovation to overcome,” said Dr. John Fisk, Director of the Wallace Center at Winrock International. Some challenges food hubs face include: 1) securing capital, 2) securing more products, and 3) responding to opportunity to grow. More than 50% of hubs are concerned about securing more supply – and growth could be a liability for at least 40% of hubs because of barriers to adequate capital and limited delivery, warehouse and staff capacity. The full report is available online, as well as a webinar recording of key findings.

We will cover the challenges and opportunities specific to the Maryland region (based on a second new report!) in the next two posts for this series.

If you’re interested in learning more about food hubs and how they are operating in Maryland, I encourage you to join us next week at Friends and Farms in Columbia, Maryland for a tour of their food hub, and a short discussion with the Wallace Center. Email me at pwentworth@smadc.com to learn more.

Farm products are the gifts that keep on giving!

Farm products are the gifts that keep on giving!

holiday guide
2015 Farms for the Holidays guide is out (online and print)!

As the holiday season approaches Maryland’s farms offer a ‘home-grown’ alternative to the malls and stores. As you are busy getting ready, don’t forget to extend the gratitude and the bounty of the holiday season to local farmers. Creative gift giving takes many forms, but choosing items grown and created locally also gives a gift back to the community. Why not shop at a local farm or farm store for gifts, holiday meals, and festive gatherings? Not only will you eat flavorful meals and give unique gifts, but  it also regenerates dollars back into our local economy and helps keep Maryland’s farmland scenic and beautiful. And as Greg Bowen has said on this blog before, “many shoppers, despite this modern era of technology and internet sales, are looking for special gifts and family purchases that will promote family ties, honor local culture, and reflect the reason for the season. They can find lots of options in local stores, shops, and farms in the region.”

SMADC’s 2015 Farms for the Holidays Guide is now available. The guide highlights farms  and farm stores that offer a surprising array of locally grown products and services this time of year. View and share the online guide, here. And for a list of places you can find hard copies of the guide, click here. Buying local around the state? The Maryland’s Best website has a helpful search feature to help you find local fare, such as the turkey and Christmas tree farms nearest you.

Also, the holidays are a time where we find ourselves gathering around with loved ones to enjoy food. If you will be dining out, consider taking the family to eat at restaurant that source from Maryland farms. SMADC put together a list a list earlier this year, of those were sourcing from Maryland farms. Take a look, here. Gift cards to these places also make great stocking stuffers.

If you are a farm or farm store that is not on the list, and interested in the Farms for the Holidays mini-guide or you regularly supply a restaurant that is not on the Farm-to-Table Listing, contact Susan McQuilkin, SMADC, at smcquilkin@smadc.com.

Consider taking your own twist to the Buy Local Challenge!  Susan put together the “Buy Local for the Holidays” campaign:

  • Meats, Seafood and Dairy products
    Create a holiday feast the whole family will love with farm fresh eggs, locally caught fish and oysters and flavorful farm raised meats for your festive table. Farm meats are easier to buy than ever before.
  • Trees and Trimmings
    Deck your halls with the natural beauty and fragrance of locally grown trees and festive greenery. Escape the holiday crowds and take a trip to one of the area’s Christmas tree farms, you’re sure to find the perfect tree and an array of fresh cut trimmings.

    The past few years I've purchased Thanksgiving turkey from Patuxent Harvest, just down the street from where I live. To keep the meal 100% regionally sourced, this year we visited local farmers markets for things like sage sausage for the stuffing from Monnett Farms, and Chesapeake's Bounty for mushrooms, flour, milk and cheese.
    The past few years I’ve purchased Thanksgiving turkey from Patuxent Harvest, just down the street from where I live. To keep the meal 100% regionally sourced this year, we visited local farmers markets for things like sage sausage for the stuffing from Monnett Farms, and Chesapeake’s Bounty for mushrooms, flour, milk and cheese.
  • Activities and Events
    Many farms host fun family events and workshops, including ‘how to’ classes for wreathes and table-top decorations, winter hayrides, live ‘nativity’ performances, Christmas open houses featuring live music and ‘Visits with Santa’.

If you are cooking over the holidays, consider purchasing you’re meal from one of the local shops listed in the Holiday guide or the Farm-to-Table Listing. I didn’t realize what has become available locally in the fall until recently. This year, we cooked a traditional Thanksgiving meal for 15 people, and found that it has become possible again to source the entire traditional Thanksgiving meal, (not just the turkey  and a few root vegetables like we’d been doing) from our wonderful regional farms. Marylanders’ have a bounty of diversified regional farms to be thankful for.

As markets close for the winter, I enjoyed seeing farmers buy from fellow farmers (or trade) for their holiday meals, signifying, we’re  all in this together. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

Interview: Chesapeake’s Bounty Part 2, Mix’n’Match and Food Forests

Interview: Chesapeake’s Bounty Part 2, Mix’n’Match and Food Forests

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. 

Priscilla [Maryland FarmLINK]: What is a project or result you are most proud of?

12043129_1229860970372859_6832701550903766269_n
The three sizes available for Mix n Match

Will [Chesapeake’s Bounty]: 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 the “Mix and Match” section 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.

Priscilla [Maryland FarmLINK]: Perfect transition. Let’s talk more about the work-share program and community workshops you offer at the St. Leonard location. Why is this type of education important to you to offer?

Will [Chesapeake’s Bounty]: 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.

PCSA2015
Chesapeake’s Bounty garden boxes growing summer tomato plants at the St. Leonard location.

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.

Priscilla [Maryland FarmLINK]: Can you explain some of the farming methods you’ve researched and implemented at Chesapeake’s Bounty?

Will [Chesapeake’s Bounty]: 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.

Priscilla [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 [Chesapeake’s Bounty]: 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.

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PCSA plots utilizing straw for growing vegetables and fruits at the St. Leonard location.

Priscilla [Maryland FarmLINK]: How can individuals become more involved?

Will [Chesapeake’s Bounty]: Like the 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 we’ll talk. There is a lot going on here.

Priscilla [Maryland FarmLINK]: Is there anything else you want FarmLINK readers to know?

Will [Chesapeake’s Bounty]: 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.

 

 

 

 

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