Thank a farmer
Most of life’s necessities – food, clothing and shelter – start with agriculture. March 21 was National Agriculture Day, which recognizes and celebrates the contributions of agriculture to American society. To coincide with this national celebration, Gov. Larry Hogan has declared March 19-25 as “Maryland Agriculture Week.” From the mountains of western Maryland with its dairy farms and hay to central Maryland with its greenhouse and livestock industries to the Eastern Shore’s acres of corn and poultry – Maryland truly grows something for everyone.
“Maryland’s vibrant agricultural industry is a critical component of our state’s economy, and our farmers go above and beyond to provide fresh, quality food that is accessible, affordable, and safe for our citizens,” said Hogan. “I encourage all Marylanders to take a moment to recognize and celebrate our farmers and the essential role they have in our daily lives.”
There are 2.1 million farms in the United States, a country with nearly 319 million people. Agriculture products remain the nation’s top export. Each American farmer today feeds more than 155 people – a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s. American agriculture is doing more – and doing it better.
“For the average person, it is sometimes easy to forget just how important agriculture is to their daily life,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Maryland Agriculture Week is the perfect occasion for all Marylanders to reflect on the important work that our farmers do each day.”
In Maryland, one-third of the land mass – over 2 million acres – is farmland. In 2015, the top commodity sectors were poultry (broilers), greenhouse and nursery, corn and dairy.
In Queen Anne’s County, 530 farms, encompassing 156,941 acres, yield products with a market value of $166,855,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2012 Census of Agriculture. The county is the top producer of corn and soybeans in the state.
Visit the Kent Island Farmers Market, which is open 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursdays year round at Christ Church on Route 8 in Stevensville. In addition to seasonal fruits and vegetables, the marker features eggs, milk, gluten free breads and baked goods, meats, raw milk cheeses, olives and more. The Queen Anne’s County Master Gardeners have a booth where they answer questions the second week of the month.
Visit a winery. Touring a winery or a vineyard in the countryside, tasting some of Maryland’s fine wines, and enjoying the company of friends are fun ways to spend a springtime day. Maryland has seven wine trails and 62 wineries that offer more than 400 different wines. Both Cascia Vineyards in Stevensville and Cassinelli Winery and Vineyards in Church Hill are on the Chesapeake Wine Trail. Our county also boasts Tilmon’s Island Winery in Sudlersville.
Spring is here and now is the time to plan for your gardens and lawns. Be sure to get a soil test before fertilizing and check out the University of Maryland Extension’s Grow it Eat it website. It won’t be long now until the roadside stands and pickyour-own-produce farms open.
Take a moment this week and thank a farmer.