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August 5, 2022

Maryland Wholesale Produce Market Receives Funding For Expansion

Joint Funding Provided by State and County 

JESSUP, MD (August 5, 2022) – On Thursday, August 4, Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) Secretary Joe Bartenfelder joined Howard County officials and members of the Maryland Food Center Authority Board to announce an $11 million investment between the state and Howard County to upgrade the Maryland Wholesale Produce Market. The combined funding will help expand refrigeration capacity and allow for an enclosed expansion of the Market’s back dock. The Market, located in Jessup, serves as a major link in the food supply chain for the entire mid-Atlantic region, connecting local farmers, wholesale produce vendors, grocery stores, and restaurants, offering a large variety of produce as a source for items that might otherwise be unavailable unless purchased in very large shipments.

“The upgrades to this facility will ensure the continued successful operations of this center,” said Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder. “The many challenges of COVID-19 have highlighted the need for this distribution hub, connecting the Maryland farm community with restaurants, grocery stores, and so much more. The state’s investment will strengthen this link in the food supply chain for years to come.” 

Built in 1976, the Maryland Wholesale Produce Market (Market) began operation under the Maryland Food Center Authority (Authority). The Authority leases space in the Market to privately-owned companies engaged in the wholesale distribution of fresh produce. The Market is a critical link in the daily supply of produce to restaurants, chain grocers, hotels, wholesale food processors, and consumer buying groups. The Market encompasses 333,000 square feet of terminal space. 

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August 1, 2022

MDA Secretary Bartenfelder Opens 2022 International Leadership Alumni Conference

ANNAPOLIS, MD (August 1, 2022) – Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) Secretary Joe Bartenfelder kicked off the 2022 International Leadership Alumni Conference (ILAC).. The event hosted by LEADelaware and LEAD Maryland brings attendees from ag communities across the country to the region. Over the next four days, guests will visit farms in Maryland and Delaware, hear from a wide variety of industry experts and attend development seminars.

“As Secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture, I welcome you to Maryland,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “I hope during your time here you will experience all that Maryland agriculture has to offer and you gain knowledge you can use in your own ag community.” 

Monday’s kick off also featured a panel of representatives from the Delmarva Chicken Association (DCA), Maryland Grain Producers and Grow and Fortify. Each provided insight on ag initiatives in the region from the new “Littr” app introduced by DCA to value-added agriculture. 

 

For more information on the conference, please visit ilacconference.com.  

 

 

 

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Follow Maryland Department of Agriculture on Twitter @MdAgDept


July 27, 2022

MDA Secretary Visits Cecil County Fair Agricultural Showcase

ELKTON, MD (July 27, 2022)- With fair season in full swing, Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) Secretary Joe Bartenfelder made a stop at the Cecil County Fair and Agricultural Showcase on Tuesday. During the visit, Secretary Bartenfelder expressed his enjoyment of representing the farming community over the past 8 years. “I am honored to represent the Maryland ag community and county fairs like the Cecil County Fair showcase are what this community is all about!”

Bartenfelder also touched on the importance of Maryland Buy Local Challenge  and the success of the Governor’s Buy Local Cookout. MDA Deputy Secretary Steve Connelly, a Cecil County native, was also in attendance. Secretary Bartenfelder recognized his work at MDA, bringing his knowledge of the ag industry through his experience growing up on a dairy farm. 

Bartenfelder also touched on the importance of Maryland Buy Local Challenge  and the success of the Governor’s Buy Local Cookout. MDA Deputy Secretary Steve Connelly, a Cecil County native, was also in attendance. Secretary Bartenfelder recognized his work at MDA, bringing his knowledge of the ag industry through his experience growing up on a dairy farm. 

The Cecil County Fair runs through Saturday. For more information, please visit cecilcountyfair.org/whatsnew/fair-dates/

For a complete list of dates for all Maryland county fairs, please visit visitmaryland.org/article/county-fairs-and-agricultural-expos

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July 21, 2022

Governor Hogan Joins Maryland Department of Agriculture for 2022 Buy Local Cookout

ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan today attended the 2022 Buy Local Cookout at the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) for an evening of sampling dishes prepared by local chefs with local ingredients, live music, and exhibits featuring MDA programs. The event officially kicks off “Maryland Buy Local Week” from July 22-31, which encourages Marylanders to take the Buy Local Challenge by incorporating at least one locally grown, produced, or harvested product into their meals each day.

“It is thanks to our many local chefs, farmers, distillers, brewers, growers, and watermen that agriculture continues to be the leading industry in Maryland, and this event is a great way to show our appreciation,” said Governor Hogan. “This Maryland Buy Local Week, I encourage all Marylanders to take the pledge to incorporate at least one local product into each of their meals.”

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For the 2022 cookout, MDA partnered with the Restaurant Association of Maryland to host a Chef’s Competition prior to the cookout featuring Maryland agriculture and seafood products. Chefs submitted simple, but creative recipes showcasing the ways Maryland families can prepare delicious, nutritious meals at home using locally produced food. The winning chefs were awarded a ‘Golden Ticket’ to the World Food Championships in Dallas. Chefs participating in the competition also created samples for cookout attendees to taste and vote for the “People’s Choice Award.”

“It is an honor to host this year’s cookout at MDA,” said MDA Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “This event and the Buy Local Challenge are vital to the Maryland agricultural community by helping farmers and producers connect with Maryland families and chefs to explore and try new ways of experiencing fresh Maryland products.”

In addition to those contributing to the recipes featured at the cookout, Mountaire FarmsRoseda Black Angus FarmsHoffman’s Quality Meats, the Brewers Association of MarylandMaryland Distillers GuildMaryland Wineries Association, eight dairy farms on the Maryland’s Best Ice Cream TrailBroom’s Bloom DairyChesapeake Bay Farms, Inc.Keyes CreameryMisty Meadow Farm CreameryPrigel Family CreameryRocky Point CreamerySouth Mountain CreameryWoodbourne Creamery at Rock Hill OrchardCompanyHomestead GardensWillow Oak Flower & Herb FarmOrchard Point Oyster Co.,Shell and BarrellTrue Chesapeake Oyster CoMar-Del Watermelon AssociationAcme Paper &Supply, and Pepsi also provided products for the event. Musical entertainment was provided by Mayo Family Band and oyster shell recycle was provided by the Oyster Recovery Partnership.

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The Buy Local Challenge, created in 2006 by the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission, has grown into a statewide initiative that has continued to expand. Maryland’s agriculture and seafood industries contribute more than $16 billion to the state’s economy and account for more than 68,000 jobs.

To participate in Maryland’s Buy Local Week and the Buy Local Challenge, use marylandsbest.net to find local Maryland products, locate a farmers market, and more.

For additional information about participants and why buying local in Maryland matters, please visit the following links:

2022 Chef’s Bios 

2022 Cookout Menu 

2022 Craft Beverage Participants 

Maryland Food Statistics 

Buy Local Benefits 

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July 14, 2022

2022 Maryland Dairy Princess Crowned

60th Annual Pageant held in Frederick 

ANNAPOLIS, MD (July 14, 2022)- A new Maryland Dairy Princess was crowned on Wednesday, July 13, 2022 in Frederick. The 2022 winner of the 60-year old pageant is Morgan Osborn-Wotthlie of Carroll County and the Alternate Dairy Princess winner is Kaitlyn Bradley of Dorchester County. Osborn-Wotthlie will spend the next year traveling across Maryland to promote the Maryland dairy industry with Bradley assisting as needed. Participants were judged on a personal interview, a short speech called a “milk toast,” a creative skit and  performance.

During the event Maryland Agriculture Secretary Bartenfelder congratulated all the participants for being ambassadors for the state’s dairy industry while giving thanks to the outgoing Princess Elizabeth Karides for her commitment to raising awareness of all things dairy over the last year. 

“Elizabeth has done an outstanding job representing the Maryland dairy industry,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “Throughout her reign as the Maryland Dairy Princess, she has worked to bring awareness of all things dairy through appearances, articles and involvement in events. Congratulations on a job well done! I am confident that Morgan will represent the industry well.” 

 For more information on the Maryland Dairy Princess Pageant, please click here:marylanddairyprincess.org

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Pictured above from left to right are Richard F. Colburn of MDA, Alternate Dairy Princess Kaitlyn Bradley, MDA Secretary  Joe Bartenfelder, and 2002 Princess Winner Morgan Osborn-Wotthlie.


June 29, 2022

MDA Assistant State Veterinarian Retires

Dr. Nancy Jo Chapman Recognized  for Service

SALISBURY, MD (June 28, 2022) – The Maryland Department of Agriculture honored Assistant State Veterinarian Dr. Nancy Jo Chapman at a retirement party recognizing her 15 years of state service. Dr. Chapman started with the Department in 2009 as Assistant Chief of Animal Health for Operations and the regional veterinarian for southern Maryland before eventually becoming Assistant State Veterinarian. Dr. Chapman also briefly served as acting State Veterinarian prior to Dr. Michael Odian’s appointment in that position.   

“Dr. Jo has tirelessly provided outstanding service and care to the animals of the Maryland ag industry,” said Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Her contributions to our animal health programs are immeasurable. I wish her nothing but the best as she enters retirement.” 

Dr. Chapman’s commitment to the mission of the Animal Health program has resulted in significant contributions to veterinary diagnostic laboratory services and the animal agriculture industry.

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June 15, 2022

June is Dairy Month, Let’s Celebrate!

June is National Dairy Month and we continue to celebrate Maryland’s dairy industry and the farm families that operate them.  With over 42,000 dairy cows and 340 dairy farms across the State, Maryland’s dairy industry is thriving.  Maryland Dairy Princess Elizabeth Karides is providing some insight into all things dairy, including the incredible health benefits of milk, yogurt and cheese.   And don’t forget the 2022 Maryland Ice Cream Trail is open so get out and enjoy some farm fresh ice cream today! 

Kick Off the Summer by Celebrating Dairy!

By: Elizabeth Karides, 2021-22 Maryland Dairy Princess

In 1937, June was dubbed National Milk Month as a way to distribute extra milk during the hot Summer. Since then, June has evolved into National Dairy Month. Though it may sound silly to dedicate an entire thirty days to this food group, National Dairy Month gives us a chance to reflect upon the vital work dairy farmers do for our community and the environment. For starters, our farmers work 365 days a year to provide milk, an undeniably healthy beverage packed with 13 essential nutrients like calcium, potassium, zinc, and Vitamin A, to neighborhoods far and near. These nutrients are linked to immune health, bone and muscle health, reduced inflammation, and reduced risk of chronic diseases like osteoporosis. From milk, we get some other delicious, and incredibly nutritious, products like yogurt and cheese which are both excellent sources of calcium to keep our bones and teeth strong. In addition to providing our community nourishing foods, dairy farmers are also excellent environmental stewards. By incorporating buffer strips on their farmland to collect any manure or fertilizer-rich runoff before it enters waterways like Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, making use of robotic feed pushers to reduce the need for gas-powered equipment by maximizing feed, and utilizing equipment known as methane digesters which transform manure into a clean source of electricity to power their homes and farms, dairy farmers are truly dedicated when it comes to environmental stewardship. And given the fact that the U.S dairy industry’s carbon footprint shrank 19% between 2007 and 2017, the future of environmental protection through dairy farming seems bright. Not to mention, since practically all dairy farms are family farms, for farmers it is especially important to protect land, air, and water for future generations. So there you have it, the next time you are enjoying a cool glass of milk, a warm grilled cheese, or a refreshing scoop of ice cream later this Summer, think about the hardworking people who provided it. 


June 14, 2022

Maryland’s “Ag Tag”: Over 20 Years of Supporting Ag Education


By: Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder
Maryland Department of Agriculture

Published by The Delmarva Farmer on June 7, 2022 

The “Ag Tag” has been on our Maryland highways since 2001. Today, I would like to take a moment to celebrate this bright orange license plate that reminds us all of the importance of our great farmers. Created by the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation (MAEF) as a tool to raise funds for the nonprofit, the Ag Tag has succeeded wonderfully. The tags, which cost an extra $10 for motor vehicle owners, have raised more than $12 million in 21 years. You’ll see Ag Tags with everything from “MDA 1,” “YO SOY,” “AG TERP,” to “VINEGIRL” and “FRMCHIC”. All proud Marylanders who want to support our farmers and celebrate agriculture.

The Ag Tag funds support K-12 and post-secondary opportunities to increase agricultural education and literacy, including MAEF’s Mobile Science Labs, professional development programs for teachers, ag literacy book programs, & “Lab in a Box”; kits, garden grants, Maryland Future Farmers of America (FFA) and support for ag science teachers, and much much more.

MAEF was founded in 1989 by farmers and teachers with a goal of doing all they could to teach kids about agriculture. The organization has since taken off! MAEF celebrated 1 million students reached through elementary education programming in 2019, and kept right on going, even through the COVID- 19 pandemic, providing online resources through their website and social media, issuing grants for garden kits, offering Virtual Farm Field Trips, and reformatting Maryland FFA competitions to online platforms.

MAEF reaches Maryland children from Baltimore to Ocean City, from Dunkirk to Deep Creek Lake with learning experiences that explain where our food comes from and how farmers produce it. The organization’s three Mobile Science Labs offer 50-minute experiments that allow students to really dig into agriculture.

MAEF also offers classes for Maryland teachers that show them how to use agriculture to help young minds explore the world around them. The teachers are able to use agriculture as an experiential teaching tool for the state’s core curricula of science, social studies, life skills, mathematics and language arts, and craft their love for the Bay and nature.

The Ag Tag is succeeding for our state. It supports all of this and more. Ag students become better informed citizens who will shape our future with at least some knowledge of where their food comes from. As for me, I always have Ag Tags on my truck.

To learn more about MAEF or order your “Ag Tag” today, please visit : maefonline.com


June 10, 2022

MDA Secretary Visits St. Michaels Elementary School  

Students congratulated on agricultural project  

St. Michaels, MD (June 10, 2022) – Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) Secretary Joe Bartenfelder visited St. Michaels Elementary School on June 9 to recognize and thank 3rd and 4th grade students on their work throughout the year learning about Maryland produce, specifically strawberries.  

While speaking with students, Secretary Bartenfelder, a lifelong farmer and strawberry grower, discussed the history of the fruit in Maryland, what it takes to grow a good berry, and shared tips on what the students can do next season to ensure a bountiful harvest.  He also encouraged the students to enjoy all the produce that Maryland has to offer.  

“There is nothing like fresh Maryland produce,” said Secretary Baretenfelder. “Each season brings its own unique fruits and vegetables. As the strawberry season comes to an end, you can be certain there is another delicious summer crop to follow.” 

Secretary Baretenfelder ended his remarks with a presentation of a quart of fresh hand picked strawberries.  

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Follow Maryland Department of Agriculture on Twitter @MdAgDept & @MDsBest


May 25, 2022

MDA Secretary Attends William Still Interpretive Center Ribbon Cutting

Lt. Governor Rutherford and Still Family Members Officially Open Site 

DENTON, MD (May 23, 2022)Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford joined Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) Secretary Joe Bartenfelder at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the William Still Family Interpretive Center located at the Caroline County 4-H park. 

Over a decade in the making, the historical site marks the location of Sydney Still’s choice to leave two of her four child behind as she fled slavery. Sydney and Levin’s youngest son, William Still, went on to become the “Father of the Underground Railroad.” Markers leading up to the recreated cottage where the family once lived also tell the story of tenant farmers who lived on the property and the struggles they faced. 

During the event, hosted by the Caroline County Historical Society, Secretary Bartenfelder reflected on the life of William Still and the struggles his family faced. “It is truly an honor to be here with the direct descendants of William Still and learn about his life and the choice his mother had to make,” stated Secretary Bartenfelder.  “This is truly an important piece of Caroline County history coming to life.”

Following the program, Secretary Bartenfelder toured the one room cottage and spoke with descendants of William Still, including Valerie Still, and Dr. Alonzo Sexton and his son, Austin Sexton. 

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Follow Maryland Department of Agriculture on Twitter @MdAgDept & @MDsBest

 


May 24, 2022

Secretary Bartenfelder Announces “Unsung Hero of Maryland Agriculture” Award for April 2022

ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 24, 2022) – Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder has announced Max and Katherine Dubansky of Garrett County as the recipients of the second “Unsung Heroes of Maryland Agriculture” award.   

Owners of Backbone Farm in Oakland, MD, the Dubansky’s have been leaders of innovation in sustainable agriculture practices, from farm to table. They are also active in teaching the next generation of Maryland farmers through internship opportunities on their farm.  

“The Dubansky’s symbolize what hard work and dedication can do for agriculture,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “I am honored to shine a spotlight on their accomplishments in Western Maryland and what they have done for the Maryland ag community. Our industry can remain strong thanks to farms like Backbone Farm and knowledgeable leaders like Max and Katherine. I thank them for their continued support.”  

The “Unsung Heroes of Maryland Agriculture” award was created to honor the contributions of Marylanders working in various roles in the farming and food production industries. The department is accepting nominations on a rolling basis. To submit nominations, please fill out this form or contact Denise Burrell at denise.burrell@maryland.gov.

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Follow Maryland Department of Agriculture on Twitter @MdAgDept


March 31, 2022

Secretary Bartenfelder Presents “Unsung Hero of Maryland Agriculture” Award for March 2022

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder presented the first of a new monthly award for “Unsung Heroes of Maryland Agriculture” to Danee Caulk of Dorchester County. 

“Danee Caulk is an outstanding example of the lifetime commitment shared by many Maryland farmers,” said Secretary Bartenfeder. “In fact, I’m told that Danee can often be found picking an acre of asparagus, all by herself, to this day! As a trailblazer for women in agriculture, a teacher, and a farmer, it is an honor for me to present Danee Caulk with the very first ‘Unsung Heroes of Maryland Agriculture’ award.”

Ms. Caulk was one of the first female agriculture students to graduate with honors from University of Maryland. She is a longtime horticulturist and teacher who also served as the first female field representative for produce company Green Giant. 

The “Unsung Heroes of Maryland Agriculture” award was created to honor the contributions of Marylanders working in various roles in the farming and food production industries. The department is accepting nominations on a rolling basis. To submit nominations, please fill out this Google form or contact Denise Burrell at denise.burrell@maryland.gov.


November 30, 2021

The 2021 Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Champion Trailblazer goes to…

THE DELKHOON FAMILY

After the COVID-pandemic canceled their family vacation to Disney, Bob and Sara Delkhoon looked for another adventure closer to home. That’s when they heard about the Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail and thought it would be a great way for them and their three daughters to see new parts of the state.

“We are so thankful that we chose to become ice cream trailblazers this summer. We explored our state, met some lovely Marylanders along the way, and made lots of memories as a family.” Sara Delkhoon

The Delkhoon family visited all of the 10 on-farm creameries on the Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail between June 5 and Aug. 30, 2021. Collectively, the family traveled roughly 1,050 miles around the state in their quest to be named the 2021 Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Champion Trailblazer.

As this year’s Champion Trailblazers the Delkhoon’s will receive a $50 gift certificate to the creamery of their choice, a copy of the children’s book “Tales of the Dairy Godmother: Chuck’s Ice Cream Wish,” the 2021 Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Champion Trailblazer trophy, and, most importantly, ULTIMATE BRAGGING RIGHTS!

Congratulations to the Delkhoon’s and thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail! It was one of our best seasons yet. 

Check out the Delkhoon’s trail log below! They shared details on each stop and included recommendations on their favorite flavors. 

Stop 1: Broom’s Bloom Dairy – Harford County, Maryland | June 5, 2021

Kicking it Off Right. The Delkhoon’s started their journey at Broom’s Bloom Dairy in Bel Air after soccer practice one Saturday afternoon in early June. Broom’s Bloom is already a family favorite as they had stopped there many times before for the “Cowman’s Repast,” a lunch special that includes a cup of soup, stew, chili, or mac and cheese, half a sandwich, and a small ice cream. 

Stop 2: Keyes Creamery – Harford County, Maryland | June 12, 2021

Rainbow Sprinkles Make Everything Better. The Delkhoon’s paid Keyes Creamery in Aberdeen a visit in mid-July. Bob and Sara both highly recommend their s’mores sundaes. The girls ordered cotton candy and cookie monster ice cream and even added rainbow sprinkles for some flare. Little did they know this was the start of the girls’ rainbow sprinkle obsession!

Stop 3: Kilby Cream – Cecil County, Maryland | June 20, 2021

Banana Split Streak Begins. On June 20, the Delkhoon’s visited Kilby Cream in Rising Sun. This is where Bob started his banana split kick. Sara thoroughly enjoyed the “Tractor Tracks” sundae. The girls continued their rainbow sprinkle crusade and this time paired their sprinkles with cookie monster and strawberry ice cream. They enjoyed the playground and the girls met a lot of new friends!

Stop 4: Prigel Family Creamery – Baltimore County, Maryland | July 3, 2021

The Local Favorite. The day before the Fourth of July, the family visited their local ice cream joint, Prigel Family Creamery in Glen Arm. The parents tried the banana split while the girls remained steadfast in their rainbow sprinkle taste testing. At this stop, the girls had the chance to help one of the farmers herd their cows towards the barn. They were clapping and cheering “let’s go girls, let’s go.” This has since become a family motto. Sara and Bob Delkhoon said, “we definitely need some practice herding our girls though.”

Stop 5: Misty Meadow Farm Creamery – Washington County, Maryland | July 4, 2021

Red, White, and MoOoo! On an impromptu trip, the family celebrated part of Independence Day at Misty Meadow Farm Creamery in Smithsburg. The trip out west did not disappoint. The family was pleasantly surprised by the entire experience! They loved petting the farm animals, riding the trikes, playing on the tires, and posing with flowers. Also, they said that their BBQ was amazing! Back to ice cream, the parents continued with the banana split tradition and the girls paired rainbow sprinkles with the blue moon ice cream. They also tried one of the Fourth of July sundaes. While out in Western Maryland, the family also did a short hike to Cunningham Falls. They described the excursion as a “nice little day trip” and said, “looking back, this was our favorite overall creamery experience!” 

Stop 6: South Mountain Creamery – Frederick County, Maryland | July 18, 2021

A True Dairy Farm Experience. In mid-July, the group headed out to South Mountain Creamery in Middletown. This was where they got to experience first-hand what working on a dairy farm is really like. Both of the girls had the opportunity to feed a baby calf! After working hard, the family enjoyed banana splits, birthday cake with rainbow sprinkles, and the creamery’s signature “Take Me Home Country Roads” sundae. After ice cream, the family enjoyed the playground and met another family who was blazing the ice cream trail as well. On the way out, they bought some fresh milk. The family described the chocolate milk as “to-die-for-delicious!” They now use the unique glass milk bottles to display wildflowers on their dining room table.  

Stop 7: Woodbourne Creamery at Rock Hill Orchard – Montgomery County, Maryland | July 31, 2021

Peachy Keen Day on the Trail. On the very last day of July, the family joined friends at Woodbourne Creamery in Mt. Airy. Here, the crew picked more than two dozen peaches at Rock Hill Orchard. The group recommends the peach, black raspberry, and Andes mint ice cream flavors. After ice cream, the girls ran off their sugar rushes on the playground.

Stop 8: Rocky Point Creamery – Frederick County, Maryland | Aug. 7, 2021

Hiking the Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail > Hiking the Appalachian Trail. In early August, the family did a very challenging four-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail — “picture a baby strapped to your chest and two toddlers wearing crocs, a tiara, and mermaid dresses hiking Weverton Cliffs.” Must have been quite the sight! After a long hike, they rewarded themselves with some treats from Rocky Point Creamery in Tuscarora. Flavors included: banana split, s’mores ice cream, unicorn ice cream, and mint chip ice cream with…you guessed it…rainbow sprinkles. Pro-tip: The family recommends the playground that has a huge John Deere tractor that has been transformed with slides and ladders for kids.

Stop 9: Nice Farms Creamery – Caroline County, Maryland | Aug. 28, 2021

Almost to the finish line! While on the Eastern Shore, the Delkhoon’s made a pit stop at Nice Farms Creamery in Federalsburg. Upon arrival, the family was greeted by the welcoming committee, the farm’s cats named Mittens and Snickers. The Delkhoon’s loved chatting to the third-generation dairy farmer who was working that day. Though Nice Farms Creamery did not offer rainbow sprinkles, the family still loved their classic ice cream flavors — vanilla and chocolate. Before departing, they made sure to buy some fresh milk. The milk was so fresh in fact, that it had been milked from the cows earlier that morning.

Stop 10: Chesapeake Bay Farms – Berlin, Maryland | Aug. 30, 2021

Last, but not least! The family ended their ice cream trailblazing journey at Chesapeake Bay Farms in Berlin. No rainbow sprinkles here either, but they really enjoyed their ice cream flavors lemon cookie and raspberry & cream. Grandmom and Pop joined them as they celebrated the end of their legendary ice cream trail season.


November 15, 2021

Maryland the Place to Be for Fall Agriculture

Photo Credit: Lancaster Farming

By: Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder

Published by Lancaster Farming on November 15, 2021

Buzzing combines harvesting this season’s grain in the field, customers filling their bags with fresh produce at the farmers market, students hustling into school before the bell, and horses thundering down the track at Laurel Park — this is what fall looks like in Maryland.

Road Safety During Harvest Season

Harvest season is an especially busy time of year for my fellow farmers who are working long hours to get their crops out of the ground so that families can have food on the table, fuel in the tank, and clothes on their backs.

With an increase of activity happening in our rural communities, we remind Maryland motorists to stay vigilant for slow-moving farm equipment on roads or highways. If you encounter any farmers while driving, please slow down, be patient, and when safe, pass with caution.

For farmers, we know that harvest season is particularly stressful and there is a lot going on. To ensure your safety and the safety of others, check your headlights, flashers, turn signals, and mirrors before leaving the farm.

Be sure the orange slow-moving vehicle emblem is visible and properly displayed. Try heading out during sunlight hours for optimal visibility and avoid traveling during high-traffic times. When driving, always use signals to identify directional changes, and pull off to the side when a car approaches behind you.

By being prepared, remaining cautious, and staying patient, we can all get to where we need to go safely during these hectic fall months.

Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week

Fall is one of the best times to eat local in Maryland. Farmers markets and farm stands are packed with in-season produce like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, chard, carrots, collards, eggplant, kale, onions, radishes, pumpkins, spinach, hard squash, sweet potatoes, and apples.

In addition to fall produce staples, Maryland seafood like blue crabs and wild-caught oysters are at their peak.

To celebrate the abundance of fresh ingredients available in Maryland and to educate students on where their food comes from, Gov. Larry Hogan declared Oct. 4-8 as Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week. In its 14th year, this annual promotion encourages Maryland schools to serve nutritious food from local producers and to educate students about Maryland agriculture.

This year, I attended a Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week event at Greenview Knolls Elementary School in St. Mary’s County.

As I walked the halls, evidence of the week’s lessons were displayed along the walls with thank-you notes to farmers and hand-drawn pictures of farm animals. During the event, I was blown away by the outdoor, hands-on learning stations geared toward teaching kids all about animal agriculture, nutrition, farming, planting, and more.

For lunch, the food service staff prepared dishes with ingredients from local producers and offered a slice of Maryland watermelon to every child.

As a farmer and Maryland’s secretary of agriculture, I was so encouraged to see the next generation have such an understanding of agriculture and appreciation for our producers.

Thank you to all the schools, educators, food nutrition staff, and students who participated in Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week.

Maryland Horse Month

The fall is an important time for our producers, and also for Maryland’s thriving equestrian sector.

Maryland is home to more horses per square mile than any other state, and the equine industry contributes nearly $1.3 billion to the state’s economy.

Throughout October, Maryland hosted three major horse events, the all-new Maryland 5-Star, the Jim McKay Maryland Million Day at Laurel Park, and the Capital Challenge Horse Show at Prince George’s Equestrian Center.

To recognize the importance of these events and Maryland’s horse industry, Gov. Hogan proclaimed October as Maryland Horse Month.

The Maryland 5-Star was held from Oct. 14-17 at the newly constructed Fair Hill Special Event Zone in Cecil County. Four of the world’s top 10 riders participated in the international eventing competition.

In its inaugural year, the event was a major success and helped cement Maryland as an equestrian powerhouse in the U.S. I am proud that our state is one of only two in the U.S., and seventh worldwide, to hold such a competition.

In closing, as we continue into cooler temperatures and shorter days, I wish all Maryland farmers a successful, bountiful, and safe harvest season.


November 8, 2021

Get to Know MDA’s 2020 Employee of the Year – Mary Darling

We sat down with Mary Darling, the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA’s) 2020 Employee of the Year, to chat about her experience serving the department and the State of Maryland for the past two decades.

What is your current job role at MDA?

Mary: “I serve as MDA’s Human Resources Deputy Director. I work in close cooperation with the HR Director to plan, direct, supervise, and coordinate the work activities of recruitment and selection, employee relations, reclassifications, compensation, training, employment services and management of positions, and data in the Statewide Personnel System (SPS).”

How long have you been with the department? 

Mary: “I have been with the department for 22 years. I started working at MDA in 1999. 

A little background, I am an Upstate New York farm girl. I grew up on a 300-acre dairy farm with a herd of purebred Holsteins. After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in Rural Sociology, I began my government career in 1980 with the New York State Department of Labor developing agricultural employment opportunities and placing workers in available jobs, working closely with fruit and vegetable growers who employed migrant and offshore labor. Following other jobs in state government, I moved to Maryland and was very happy to find my way back to my agricultural roots at MDA. I’ve always had a deep interest in the ‘people’ side of agriculture.”

What’s the best part about working for MDA?  

Mary: “Working with so many committed, dedicated employees who are also experts in their fields they are inspiring and I learn something new every day! On the Human Resources side, the best days are when I can provide clarity to rules and regulations and offer positive solutions to an employee’s issue making their day a little bit better.”

What’s your favorite memory of MDA?   

Mary: “Our employee chicken barbecues and crab feasts of years past. They were a lot of work, but so much fun and a true team effort.”

In a few words, how would you describe MDA?  

Mary: “Reputable, responsive, and not your “typical” state agency.”

What was your dream job as a kid?

Mary: “Not sure I had one! I entered college thinking I was going to be a veterinary technician. I started gravitating away from the technical courses and became more interested in the social and economic issues of rural life.”

What do you like to do in your free time?  

Mary: “I enjoy getting away from my home in the suburbs to visit area parks, where I walk and take nature photos.”

Advice to any newbies at MDA or future MDA employees?  

Mary: “Find a job you love, and pay close attention to your mentors and role models. You may not realize it at first, but these individuals will have a lasting positive impact on your career.”

Fun fact about yourself? (Something your coworkers might not know about you)  

Mary: “I love colored glass and used to make stained glass art pieces.”

What’s your favorite quote?  

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.” – Alice Walker

Watch the MDA Employee of the Year 2020 Announcement presented by MDA’s Deputy Director Julie Oberg.


Contact Information

If you have any questions, need additional information or would like to arrange an interview, please contact:

Jason Schellhardt
Director of Communications
Telephone: 410-841-5888

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