Lead food safety educators, Elizabeth Beggins and Lindsay Gilmour, with food safety educator trainees, Kimberly Raikes and Aleya Fraser.

Urban Farm Food Safety Workshop

Who knew handwashing could be so interesting? Our food safety team came together for a terrific event on Tuesday, August 27th at The Greener Garden  in Baltimore.  The program was the third in a three-part series of opportunities for regional farmers to learn more about produce food safety in the context of a farm setting. Fifteen participants, including Greener Garden owners, Warren and Lavette Blue, and Berran Rogers with University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s Small Farms Program, took part in the half-day event, which included presentations and demonstrations from Chesapeake Harvest’s food safety experts, Lindsay Gilmour and Elizabeth Beggins. Also, among the presenters were food safety educator trainees, Aleya Fraser of Acres Consulting and Kimberly Raikes, with Whitelock Community Farm. A produce preparation demo, culminating in food tasting samples made with seasonal Greener Garden produce, was provided by Crystal Forman, owner of Holistic Wellness and Health. 

 

Hosted by Chesapeake Harvest and Future Harvest – Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, in partnership with University of Maryland Eastern Shore, this workshop offered a deep dive into best food safety practices for produce farms. Foundational information like the difference between cleaning and sanitizing (…do you know?) was delivered in an informal, experiential format. Participants took part in handwashing demonstrations and other practical activities intended to support training in worker health and hygiene, sanitation, and postharvest handling on farms. Participant Dana Barnes, volunteer with Whitelock Community Farm, remarked, “Elizabeth and Lindsay, Kim and Aleya are the most informed women I know on this subject. I definitely left the workshop with a better understanding of food safety practices that will help with my farming experiences going forward.”

Project manager, Elizabeth Beggins, noted, “Food safety isn’t a topic most folks are drawn toward. It’s not as compelling as, say, teaching someone how to grow an amazing crop of tomatoes. But, it is truly one of the most vital components of a successful farm operation. Our goal, with these workshops, is to make food safety education both accessible and memorable.”

Crystal Forman demonstrates hand washing during the on-farm food safety workshop.

Farm hosts and owners of The Greener Garden, Warren and Lavette Blue, with workshop participant, Dana Barnes.

Hands-on just took on a new level of importance.

This workshop is part of a grant to Chesapeake Harvest and Future Harvest CASA from the USDA-NIFA Food Safety Outreach Program to help farmers create a culture of food safety on their farms. The program offers a series of foundational food safety education workshops, and free one-on-one consulting provided by educators Lindsay Gilmour and Elizabeth Beggins. The workshops and consulting will continue through 2020. For more information or to schedule one-on-one produce safety consulting, contact Elizabeth Beggins at elizabeth@chesapeakeharvest.com

 

– The Chesapeake Harvest Team

Ava’s Pizzeria : Commitment to Fresh Taste

Like any successful restaurant owner, Chris Agharbi of Ava’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar in Cambridge and St. Michaels knows that satisfying his customers depends on the taste and quality of the food he serves. That’s why the restaurant’s focus is on simple and memorable flavors, which as much as possible, is made from scratch. This includes all the mozzarella the restaurants use—which is quite a lot.

The same focus is true with their produce. Agharbi doesn’t shy away from shopping from local farmers because he knows that not only will the harvest be fresher and taste better, but he’ll also be supporting the local economy. From peppers to greens to eggplants, these remarkable products will be used to create delicious meals. “You get a better selection, and you get better quality,” Agharbi says. “For instance, the heirloom tomatoes are beautiful. Customers eat with their eyes before they even taste it. It’s fresh.” It’s also delicious and grown organically. Shopping locally also extends to only carrying local oysters which are delivered daily. “We are particular about the farms we use. We want phenomenal products.”

So next time you’re at Ava’s, know that the food you’re enjoying probably originated not far from your table. And isn’t that comforting?

Climate Change Threatens Food Security Globally

On August 8, 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—a global group of scientists convened by the United Nations to study our shifting climate—released a much-anticipated special report on climate change and land.  Read More

Why you should be eating more Hardneck Garlic

Throughout history, much has been published about the therapeutic benefits of using garlic to treat a variety of ailments from high blood pressure to cancer to diabetes. Garlic has also been attributed to having antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. But did you know that people who eat garlic for health reasons or flavor prefer Hardneck garlic over the Softneck variety? Did you even know there was a distinction?

We asked Jim Reinhardt (aka The Garlic Guy) who specializes in the Hardneck kind on his Nature’s Garlic Farm in Easton MD, about this difference. “Hardneck garlic has a completely different profile than the one you find in the grocery store,” he said. “It has a very robust flavor profile. A lot of people who eat garlic for health reasons, don’t eat Softneck since they don’t have the same properties.”

Reinhardt currently grows 20 acres of the Hardneck, which yields approximately 1,200,000 bulbs per year! He supplies garlic to restaurants, CSAs, farmers, growers, grocers, produce stands, farmers markets, wholesalers and individuals. It’s a fascinating plant, he says, and he thinks others may agree with him. Nature’s Garlic Farm offers two programs for anyone looking to expand their knowledge about this superfood: renting a “row foot” or attending a workshop.

Rent-a-Row, Watch it Grow: For $9.95 per row foot, you can ‘virtually’ experience the various stages of growing the garlic plant, plus you get two garlic bulbs per each foot you ‘grow.’

The other program is the one-day, four-hour Garlic Growing Workshops held on Saturdays and Sundays in September and October. Attendees learn how to prepare the soil, plant, maintain and harvest the Hardneck garlic scapes and bulbs. You also get a pound of garlic cloves to plant at home.

For more information and to sign up for the programs: https://www.naturesgarlicfarm.com

A Maryland Grain Grower Takes Regenerative Agriculture to the Next Step

In his 20s, farmer Heinz Thomet recalls asking himself: “What do you want to do with your life? Are you going to purchase some mountain valley and live a hermit life… or do you want to be in the world and be part of change?”   Read More

NATIONAL CENSUS OF AGRICULTURE RESULTS

Results of the 2017 National Census of Agriculture are in. This nationwide census is conducted every 5 years and measures commodities, demographics, expenses, income, and uses, and more within that reporting year.

Highlights

  • Number of farms, land in farms and average size of farms have decreased
  • The value of production is down and government payments are up
  • Talbot County is in the top 10 for grain, poultry and houses
  • In 2017 there were 39,307 acres of soybeans grown and 1.3 million broilers in the county
  • There are 526 farmers in the county, 92% of the farms are family farms and 34% hire farm labor

For more detailed information on the Census of Agriculture State of Maryland Profile, click here.

For more detailed information on the Census of Agriculture Talbot County Profile, click here.

Events

September 17 and October 10: Workshops Aimed at Local Officials Covering Developing Agricultural Issues to be Held in Wye Mills and Salisbury https://extension.umd.edu/news/workshops-aimed-local-officials-covering-developing-agricultural-issues-be-held-wye-mills-and

September 7,8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29: Garlic Growing Workshop: https://www.naturesgarlicfarm.com/workshops

October 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27: Garlic Growing Workshop: https://www.naturesgarlicfarm.com/workshops