October Field Notes

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Amanda Kidd, owner of Beat the Rush, with Bianca Soto, Jose Prieto and little fungi fan, Francisco, of The Bay Mushrooms.

Making connections through dinner and distribution

Amanda Kidd makes it her mission to connect people through food, while at the same time promoting local growers. She recently organized a second annual Community Supper, bringing hundreds of Cambridge, MD neighbors together to eat barbecued chicken and crab soup.

As manager of the Cambridge Farmers Market, Kidd ensures that residents have access to the best produce available from local farmers. And, as owner of Beat the Rush Delivery, a personal shopping service Kidd started in 2015, she delivers produce from farms to individual customers as well as restaurants. Since Beat the Rush works with locally owned businesses, she says, “Our services support the communities we live in.”

Jose Prieto, who runs The Bay Mushrooms with his wife, Bianca Soto, says he’s looking to Kidd to help distribute mushrooms around the eastern shore. “If she can take them to Chestertown,” for example, says Prieto, “the time she would save us would be well worth it.”

Bay Mushrooms, which began in 2012 in the family’s Cambridge back yard, is producing about 250-300 pounds each week at its Federalsburg farm and selling 99 percent of what it grows, Pietro says. The farm also works with Chesapeake Harvest Direct, a relationship that began when CH operations manager, Jordan Lloyd, operated the restaurant at the Bartlett Pear Inn. Each week, the farm offers bulk mushrooms to restaurants and works with buyers to set up delivery.

Kidd started Beat the Rush as a personal shopping service but soon expanded to delivering restaurant meals. “Our goal is to get more into the farm-to-table niche, because those restaurants tend to be smaller and locally owned,” she says.

As a mother of five, aged 2 to 17, and a transplant from urban areas (she was born in D.C., and lived in several small cities), Kidd wanted to forge connections with others in her community. She started the Cambridge community supper in fall 2017, and held a second in early September of this year.

The first event, at the Dorchester YMCA, attracted close to 100 guests, and the second, at the Wesleyan Church’s family life center, counted more than 500.

Eating as a community is intimately linked with local farmers and producers, says Kidd. “We’re all looking for commonality, and a family supper is a chance to get together and learn from each other.” In the same way, Kidd reinforces community through her work with local farms. “Supporting local farm families is like putting a small nugget of investment in our future.”

Jess Niederer of Chickadee Creek Farm, in Hopewell, New Jersey.

Last month, we began our deep dive into farm food safety, teasing out the differences between voluntary, buyer-driven, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certifications and regulations established by the Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA), Produce Safety Rule (PSR).
This month, we continue our conversation with Deanna Baldwin, chief of Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Food Quality Assurance Program, who spoke to three different levels of food safety certification that are available in Maryland.
Q: It sounds as if the three levels are graduated, with the Produce Safety Rule the most basic, followed by MDA GAP and then USDA Harmonized GAP.
DB: Yes, if you pass the USDA GAP/GHP, USDA Harmonized or MDA GAP audit, more than likely, you’ll be in compliance with the Produce Safety rule. The MDA GAP and USDA Harmonized GAP are aligned with the Produce Safety Rule and include as a minimum all of the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule. The MDA certification is more or less an entry to the USDA requirements that satisfy wholesale buyers.
Q: What are some of the other requirements of the MDA and USDA GAP/GHP and USDA
Harmonized GAP?
DB: Both the MDA and USDA GAP certification programs require a written food safety plan that the FSMA Produce Safety Rule does not require. The USDA GAP certifications require traceback and recall elements that are not a requirement of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.
Q: How can farmers learn more about the FSMA Produce Safety Rule and voluntary GAP
DB: The Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia Departments of Agriculture and Cooperative Extensions, as well as Chesapeake Harvest (which serves all three states) each provide free resources to farmers wishing to pursue food safety certification or comply with the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.

October Produce Picks

Fred Coulbourn, owner/farmer of First Class Farms, LLC

It’s almost October, so we’ve gotta feature pumpkins. These cheerful fruits, a variety of winter squash that come in a rainbow of autumn colors from ecru to blue, are most familiar as carved, smiling–or scowling–orange jack-o-lanterns. But while some pumpkins are cultivated to decorate your Halloween stoop, others are prized for their sweet flesh, and are delicious when baked into pies, mixed into holiday breads and muffins, or even stuffed into ravioli. A cup of cooked pumpkin is packed with vitamin A–containing nearly 200 percent of the daily recommendation. Moreover, it’s a great source of fiber and has only about 50 calories. As for those seeds, wipe them clean and spread them on a baking pan with a sprinkle of sea salt for a crunchy snack. It’s a wonder we don’t eat pumpkin all year round. For some recipes, check out Health.com

Asian pears
Sweet and juicy, these East Asian natives have the crispness of an apple combined with the chin-dribbling goodness of a pear. Find them at local farmers markets, and eat them soon for optimum crunch. The most common found in our region is the Japanese variety, round like apples with slightly bumpy, or russeted skin. A large Asian pear contains around 100 calories and is high in fiber and vitamin C. While the best way to eat an Asian pear is fresh from the orchard, they can also be a sweet addition to salads and slaws or baked into crisps. Here are a few ideas: Click Here Or Click here


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