Maryland Celebrates National Agriculture Week
10 Ways You Can Get Involved With Maryland Agriculture
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Did you know that most of life’s necessities – food, fiber, clothing and shelter – start with agriculture? National Agriculture Week (March 13-19) recognizes and celebrates the contributions of agriculture to American society. In recognition of Maryland agriculture as one of the state’s most important industries, Governor Larry Hogan has declared “Maryland Agriculture Week,” which coincides with the national celebration. 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.
There are 2.1 million farms in the United States, a country with nearly 319 million people. Agriculture products remain the nations’ top export. Each American farmer today feeds more than 144 people – a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s. American agriculture is doing more – and doing it better. As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States.
“Frankly, it’s easy to take agriculture for granted in America. Our food is accessible, affordable and safe. Agriculture Week is a good time to reflect on – and be grateful for – American agriculture,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. (The Secretary’s blog this month is dedicated to Maryland Agriculture Week. Read it here.)
In Maryland, one-third of the land mass – over 2 million acres – is farmland. In 2014, the top commodity sectors were poultry (broilers), greenhouse and nursery, corn, and dairy. For more interesting facts about Maryland agriculture, see the AgBrief.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture shares 10 suggestions to help citizens recognize National and Maryland Agriculture Week:
- Watch (or rewatch) the first three seasons of Maryland Farm and Harvest on Maryland Public Television or online at mpt.org/farm. The hit series, now in production for a fourth season, puts a human face on farming by showcasing personal stories about farmers, their work with the land and resources, production of food and fiber for our society, challenges, hopes and dreams, and their future.
- “Take It from Maryland Farmers: Backyard Actions for a Cleaner Chesapeake Bay” is an education campaign that provides homeowners with information and tips from farmers that they can use to do their part to help improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The initiative offers a series of fact sheets that can be helpful. Some to consider are:
- Plan your garden and repair lawns with certified seeds. Spring is almost 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.
- 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 wonderful ways to spend a springtime day. Maryland has seven wine trails and 62 wineries that offer more than 400 different wines.
- Ride a horse. Sixty percent of the horses in Maryland are used for recreational purposes while 40 percent are for racing. Visit one of 35 Horse Discovery Centers or find a place to ride near you in MDA’s guide to licensed horse stables.
- Visit a creamery. Maryland has eight dairy farms that offer fresh, delicious on-farm ice cream. Together, they make up the Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail.
- Meet a Maryland Farmer. If you can’t get to a real farm, you can visit many farms online by viewing the Maryland’s Best YouTube channel. Take a tour without leaving your living room.
- Read a book about Maryland Agriculture. The Maryland Agriculture Education Foundation launched the Ag Literacy Campaign, now in its 6th year, for people to visit elementary school classrooms across the state, read a selected book and talk to students about the importance of agriculture in their lives. The selected book for 2016 is “The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen.” Learn more about the 2016 Ag Literacy Campaign.
- Follow Maryland Agriculture (MdAgDept) on social media. MDA also on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Instagram. You can also connect with Maryland’s Best Agriculture on Facebook and Twitter and YouTube.
- As products become in season, serve a meal with local food or pack a local lunch for your children. Ask your grocer for local products or visit MarylandsBest.net to find out where you can buy local products near you. Maryland farmers grow and produce a wide variety of food including fruits, vegetables, bread, cheeses and meats for lunches and snacks that are available from farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and community supported agriculture farms (CSAs). Find out what’s in season.
For more in depth information about Maryland agriculture see the 2015 Maryland Agricultural Overview, compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Follow MDA on Twitter @MdAgDept