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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.

Contact Information

If you have any questions, need additional information or would like to arrange an interview, please contact:
Jessica Hackett
Director of Communications
Telephone: 410-841-5888