Nature’s Garlic Farm a local treat
EASTON — Maryland Public Television’s original series “Maryland Farm & Harvest, “entering its fifth season, will feature a farm in Talbot County on its season premiere episode airing 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14. Other farms will also be featured.
Nature’s Garlic Farm is located in Easton. During the episode’s local buy segment, host Al Spoler introduces viewers to gourmet hardneck garlic and shares how farmer Jim Reinhardt grows and harvests his garlic. Spoler also shows how both the garlic clove and underutilized scape are used in flavorful recipes.
Nature’s Garlic Farm was established to produce a quality gourmet garlic without the use of herbicides or pesticides. The farm fields are managed with a natural slow-release fertilization program, which compliments the nutrient enrichment of the soils, using composted organics to provide the hardneck garlic with optimum natural nutrients to produce large delicious garlic cloves.
The farm implemented a cover crop program where it plants rye grasses between the rows to help keep the soils in place and healthy. The farm encourages the garlic to grow healthy by implementing an intensive hand weeding
For 2017, the farm is growing varieties of hardneck garlic: German white porcelain, music and a type Reinhardt calls Delmarva. He offers both seed and culinary selections. The farm supplies garlic to restaurants, CSA’s, farmers and growers, grocers, produce stands, farmers markets, wholesalers and individuals.
Nature’s Garlic Farm prides itself on providing the customer with a quality, healthy and palate pleasing product. For the customer’s convenience, the farm has numerous packaging choices available for culinary garlic.
Reinhardt is a great proponent of eating garlic. He eats raw garlic every day. His favorite method is to smash the bulb and then chop it. Some like to slice the bulb which results in a sweeter taste.
“When you smash them, you get a more robust garlic flavor,” he said.
Reinhardt cautions against plants sold in the produce sections of grocery stores that are called elephant garlic. “It is just a name.” he said. “It is an onion. That is all it is. It does have garlic flavor.”
Other garlic plants often come from California. They are from the Gilroy region which prides itself as being the garlic growing capital. Garlic from there is of the soft neck variety, Reinhardt said.
In the spring the farm offers Garlic scapes for sale by the bushel box or by the bunch in a “grab-&-go” fresh produce bag. Garlic scapes recipes can be found on farm’s website, www. naturesgarlicfarm.com/. This early season favorite is followed by an epicurean delight, fresh garlic, a moist and flavorful bulb, which in its beginning stage can be sliced like an onion.
Garlic is also very region specific.
“You can bring garlic into a new area and it will take on new characteristics based on the soil and climate (of you area). Over time it will become a new variety,” he said.
Reinhard started growing garlic in 1999 for personal use. He would give some to family and friends. For farming, most of his farming efforts were in corn, soybean and wheat. In 2014 he went commercial with garlic. He had learned much about the growing of garlic from his own efforts and attending some day classes at the University of Cornel in New York.
Recently he has been attending the Maryland Bio Growers Expo held each year at the Naval Academy stadium in Annapolis. It will be held in January this year.
“It is a wonderful, wonderful show.” he said. “It is a great place if you want to see Marylanders who have all different ideas on food preparation. They also display what they are growing. There are all kinds of agriculture there.”
Reinhardt is the only grower that specializes in and garlic. “We are kind of a different animal,” he said.
He has about 12 acres under development on his farm on the edge of Easton. Even after years of growing the plant, it is still an education, he said. Now he is experimenting with expanding the growing season by having a second crop started a few months later.
The process of growing garlic is labor-intensive. It has to be done by hand. The bulbs are delicate. So usually he just has family help his with the harvesting.
The process has some similarities to the old tobacco growing process in southern Maryland. It was also labor-intensive with the plants being harvested and hung to drive in large airy barns. To enter a barn was to smell the sweet scent of tobacco. Walk to Reinhardt’s garlic barn and you smell the sweet aroma of the curing garlic.
The plants need to be sorted by sized. They are then put on the wooden racks for drying. After about 10 days they can be gathered for sale
Each week, Maryland Farm & Harvest takes viewers on a journey across the state, telling stories about the farms, people, and technology required to sustain and grow Maryland’s number one industry: agriculture.
During the past year, MPT’s production team filmed stories at more than four dozen farms in preparation for the new season. Maryland’s rich agricultural heritage, the importance of bees, and growing crops in the face of changing weather patterns are among themes covered in depth during upcoming episodes.
Approximately four million viewers have tuned in to “Maryland Farm & Harvest” since its fall 2013 debut. The series has taken MPT viewers to more than 200 farms in its first four seasons, covering every Maryland county, as well as Baltimore City and Washington, D.C.
Joanne Clendining, who earned an Emmy from the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for her work as Maryland Farm & Harvest host, returns for season five. She is joined by Al Spoler, cohost of WYPR-FM’s “Cellar Notes” and “Radio Kitchen” programs, who hosts The Local Buy segment during each episode.
“Maryland Farm & Harvest” airs on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on MPT-HD and is rebroadcast on Thursdays at 11:30 p.m. and Sundays at 6 a.m. Each show also airs on MPT2 on Fridays at 7:30 p.m. More information about the series is available m at mpt.org/farm, and viewers can join the conversation on social media at the hashtag #MDFarmHavestFans.
Agriculture is Maryland’s largest commercial industry, contributing more than $17 billion in revenue each year. As of 2016 approximately 350,000 Marylanders are employed in some aspect of agriculture. The state has 12,300 farms accounting for approximately two million acres, with nearly 6,000 full-time farmers. Today, 110 farms and more than 7,679 acres are certified organic in Maryland.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture is MPT’s co-production partner for “Maryland Farm & Harvest.” Major funding is provided by the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board.
Additional funding is provided by Maryland’s Best; Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit; the Maryland Agricultural Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation; the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation; and the Maryland Soybean Board.
Other support comes from Wegmans Food Markets; the Maryland Nursery, Landscape & Greenhouse Association; the Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc.; the University of Maryland Agriculture Law Education Initiative; the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts; the Maryland Farm Bureau Service Company, and by Mar-Del Watermelon Association; Hoffman Irrigation, LLC, an authorized Valley Irrigation dealer; Chesapeake College; and the Rural Maryland Council.
Jim Reinhardt some of the garlic cloves he has ready for planting. The process is labor-intensive, as each clove has to be planted by hand and later, when mature, is also harvested by hand.
Here are some plants covered by white plastic to keep them cool.
Here are some garlic bulbs with their stems attached that have been harvested. They can be sold after drying for 10 days.
Jim Reinhardt has some 12 acres of garlic under cultivation. Here are some of the plants growing in the field.