Earlier this week a group of local food enthusiasts gathered at Garrett College to discuss propelling the local food movement within the region! The local food initiative, organized by Cheryl DeBerry from Garrett County Economic Development, was made up of a group of organizations including our team from BMR, folks from Garrett Growers, University of Maryland Extension Office, Frostburg Grows, the City of Frostburg, Mountain Fresh Produce, Tucker County and the Potomac Highlands Food and Farm Initiative, as well as Mike Koch, co-founder and President of Firefly Farms and our new Economic Development Director.
The conversation focused on collaboration and bringing together farmers, restaurants, schools, community members, and vacationers coming to our area. We were honored to be included in the discussion, and really look forward to being able to contribute to such incredible local efforts!
While the local food movement is a growing trend in urban populations, there is a great potential for Garrett County to strengthen opportunities for farmers to get their produce to a wider variety of outlets. This group of incredible people is working to do just that!
It was a great morning spent sharing stories and brainstorming on how to overcome some struggles that folks have run into throughout their pursuits of growing this local food initiative. Below is a brief description of what a few of these folks have been up to!
Garrett Growers Cooperative – A farmers coop working to provide area restaurants and grocery stores with locally grown produce. They are currently looking to increase their customer base and have applied for a USDA Value-Added Producer Grant to fund a marketing coordinator a few more years.
Tucker County – Recently received a SARE grant to support the integration of local food within the school lunch program. They have also received a Benedum Foundation grant to hire a coordinator for the Potomac Highlands Food and Farm initiative. This is a really exciting initiative to start a storefront in Davis, WV to sell local food!
Garrett County Economic Development – Continuing to brand Garrett County in Agritourism and support industries and businesses that would bolster local farms.
Culinary Heritage Event – An event planned in Garrett County for Fall 2013 that would feature local food!
Frostburg Grows – Fantastic initiative that has been funded to put high tunnels on reclaimed mine land to raise locally sourced tree seedlings, compost, and eventually develop food production. The project also includes educational services and incubation with extra high tunnels for other farmers use. They are also working with Frostburg State University to increase local foods in their cafeterias.
Next week we’re excited to visit Richard McCrobie at Northern High School to learn more about their Agriculture program and how they’re incorporating local food grown on site into their school lunch program!
Our team is looking forward to collaborating on empowering farmers, cultivating community, and getting local produce and products to the vacationers that visit the area every year! For more information on buying local in Garrett County, please visit the Garrett Farms website.