The Calvert County Farm Bureau decided to celebrate this year’s National Agriculture Week by holding a Farm to Table Breakfast to support young farmers last Saturday. They locally sourced most of the food and farm support businesses helped to pay farmers for local products.
Perhaps it was Ag Week. Perhaps it was the opportunity to support young farmers or the attraction of locally grown food. Either way, the 300+ attendees were enthusiastic about the food and took time to explore the booths around the Banquet Hall at the Calvert County Fairgrounds.
Young Farmer groups have been growing over the last few years. Last fall, about 70 young farmers from the five Southern Maryland counties attended an event. A decade ago, not all of the counties even had young farmer groups. There are also Future Farmers of America chapters in most of the Southern Maryland counties and agriculture is being taught once again in at least three county school systems.
The local food movement has brought more young farmers back to the farm and elected officials are beginning to realize that regional food systems can also build local economies.
However, there is no time to waste. In the last few decades, the number of young farmers in Calvert County has dropped off at an alarming rate. And this same story has been playing out across the region, the state and the country.
The 2012 Ag Census shows the first small rebound in the number of young farmers. In my work with Maryland FarmLINK, I have seen the trend continue.
The Farm to Table Breakfast was a great example of how we can eat our way back to a more robust farming industry, build a healthier local economy and support our young farmers!