Na­ture’s Gar­lic Farm a lo­cal treat

Sunday Star - - BUSINESS - By RICHARD POLK rpolk@ches­pub.com rpolk@ches­pub.com

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.

PHO­TOS BY RICHARD POLK

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.

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