By Fran Johnson, publisher Harford’s Heart Magazine
Harford County’s Division of Agriculture recently received an Achievement Award at the National Association of Counties Annual Conference in Reno, Nevada, for its “Buy Local” campaign to increase awareness of the availability of local-grown food. The award was acknowledgment of the county’s efforts to support our local agriculture and the hard working farmers who continue the tradition of Harford County’s rural heritage. In addition to the “Buy Local” campaign, that effort has included preserving over 46,000 acres under permanent easement, restricting development and potential non-agricultural use, and the establishment of an Agricultural Magnet Program at North Harford High School.
To be effective, though, the “Buy Local” campaign requires more than painting a slogan on local barns and distributing informational brochures. The fulfillment of the campaign will be a conscious shift in the way that residents of the county think about the food they eat, including how and where they shop for it. We’ve become accustomed to being able to purchase fresh produce all year round. And with that increased availability, we’ve lost touch with the seasonality of crops. The natural rhythm of the growing season dictates a different diet. Every fruit and vegetable has a prime time when it’s at its best: a crisp salad when it’s hot and sunny, a wholesome stew when it’s cold. Spring is the time to focus on the tender, leafy vegetables that flourish in the cool weather including swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, fresh herbs and tender new peas. As the weather heats up, the bright taste of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and plums are a cool counterpoint to the heavy humidity; summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, corn and tomatoes make for quick meals that keep us out of the kitchen. Autumn is the time to consume the more warming foods, including apples, pears, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, onions, and garlic. Preserving the harvest for the winter months is a seasonal activity that marks the end of summer. Shopping at the local farmers’ markets or local farm stands, or joining a CSA, provides an opportunity not only to enjoy produce at its freshest and tastiest, but also connects us with the people who grow our food.
In addition to the nutritional benefits of food at its peak, there is the unseen environmental benefit that comes from eliminating fuel-consuming transportation. The average food item may travel as much as 2,000 miles to our table, using fuel and losing flavor. Farmers who sell direct to local consumers don’t have to give priority to packing, shipping and shelf life issues and can instead grow crops that offer peak qualities of freshness, nutrition and taste.
Harford County’s “Buy Local” campaign is more than a slogan on a barn, or a bumper sticker. For the farmers who spend long hours planting, tending and harvesting fruits, vegetables, diary products and meats, it’s essential to their economic stability. For the residents who embrace the concept of eating locally and seasonally, it can be a healthier and more natural diet, as well as an increased awareness and appreciation for Harford County’s agricultural traditions.
Has anybody seen who’s working the fields? Why don’t they have porta pots? Pay attention folks and don’t support the farmers who hire illegal aliens. If they can’t produce and I-9 or legit green cards, they illegal aliens..Don’t support and post their business names everywhere. Richardson farms hires illegals.
The farm you mentioned is not in Harford County. This is an article about Harford County farms. I think your rantings and ravings belong on a different website.
Also, just because you see some dark-skinned people working in a field does not mean they are “illegal.” They might be, but they most likely are documented. Or they might be your “legal” neighbor from down the street. Working hard all day in the hot sun can give you quite a tan, you know.
It’s also more likely that the tomato you buy from the grocery store was picked by an illegal than the tomato you bought from a local farm.
But congratulations to Harford’s farmers and the County’s Division of Agriculture for their recognition. It is well deserved.
HAYSEED. Your right not all are illegal. But i’ll wager any amount you want to prove that at least 7-10 are illegal. Been at this many years now and can prove it. How ‘about one day you go with me to some of these farms or maybe go see a couple area builders who thrive off the hard work of illegals with little pay & no benefits. When they get layed off they try to get unemployment benefits and can’t get it,then they sue their employer builder. Thats so funny.. Illegal aliens are also suing when they get hurt on job and no workmens comp for them.. Woo HOO.. What penalties for that employer. I do love my job because I know I helped put a citizen or 2 back to work!!!
Well, now you’re throwing builders into the mix. You’re just all over the map on this, aren’t you. Again I’ll repeat… This is a positive article about HARFORD COUNTY FARMS.
If you are saying that 7 in 10 Harford County farm workers are illegal, then we might as well end this now, because that is a ridiculous number (and obviously made up). And it’s actually offensive to the hundreds of hard-working Harford County citizens who actually do work our farms, because you are calling at least 6 in 10 of them “illegal.”
I can make up numbers too… “There are 50 gazillion illegal Mexicans working on Harford County farms. Look around people!”
Harford County is blessed with a wonderful community of family farms. Quit lumping them in with farms outside of the county and with other industries.
Hayseed. Your changing words around. Re-read..you mentioned Brown people. I said 7 out of 10 are illegal. I know farmworkers are hard working people. Not about our citizens workers. Stop changing my comments. Geez. But since you mentioned it. We will be heading up north very soon to the farms. I hope your right..
Headed “up north” huh? Go for it. I’m sure the hard-working farmers would like nothing more than to drop everything in the middle of harvest time and have to produce paperwork for you and your city-slicker pals.
Hey, you’d make a great bureaucrat. As soon as you get this whole alien thing fixed, you might want to get a job with the EPA.
This illegal alien thing has to be fixed and more people are getting involved. Its a shame a northern farmer don’t think we have a problem with them.. Ask some of your out of work neighbors what they think. Its not a city county issue either. Its an american issue and sadly unless it affects you personally, you don’t get it. Luckily we have a few hard workers trying to correct things since o’malley caters to them. Only $2billion tax $$ in maryland go to illegal aliens. Not much. Just higher taxes, sales tax, utility tax, speed camera’s etc and the largest corporate tax heist in history. Thats md for ya!!
Your attitude about dark skin people makes you look foolish. You can keep your head in your butt if you want but look around you. ILLEGAL ALIENS ARE WORKING EVERYWHERE AND TAKING OUR JOBS. Maybe your fortunate enough to be employed but many aren’t. $2billion tax $$ every year in md go to illegal aliens who work, collect welfare, drive and vote!! It is in Harford county also especially their gangs like ms13.. When i hear stats that 7-8 out of 10 are still here illegally after 10 years in our country, thats just sickening.
They wont have green cards, they should have A1A Visas. If local kids would show up for work and did not think they should be middle managment the first day they could have the job. Bringing them up (the legal way) is expensive and very time consuming but nobody wants to work anymore.
Illegal immigration says
Does illegal immigration matter anymore? Have voters moved on?
It matters to many but they don’t know what to do about it. I work very hard going after employers who hire them and testifying in annapolis when they ask for money from taxpayers or special favors..
God Bless the farmers…Long hours and hard work and give jobs to our citizens.
I’ll talk to you in a month or so about visiting many farms in harford. Hope you can join me!!
Give it a rest. Renounce hatred and bigotry. ’nuff said.
Editrix. nothing bigoted about it. They are breaking our laws and scamming our systems and taking money from us and jobs from our families. Now sit back and ignore the facts all you want and throw your racist comments elsewhere. NUFF SAID!!
I think you are the racist. You decide peoples immagration status based on the color of their skin. Lucky for me you don’t work for INS, in August you might try to deport me!
not true .. i base it on their papers they don’t have!! Your one of them open border gals that don’t just don’t care.
How do you know the person working on the side of the road does or does not have papers when you drive by?
The Buy Local program is a great thing. I’m so glad that Harford County has the willingness to support the concept.
One of the benefits about buying directly from the farmer is that you can see the hands that put the plants in the ground, cared for them, and picked them. If you have a question about anything, you can just ask.
The farmers I know are all very helpful to their customers, and are obviously very dedicated to the land and to their community.
Thank you for the article. It was very enjoyable.
a citizen says
We have been working much harder this year to buy local and started buying our produce from a Brad’s stand and our milk and eggs from Broom’s Bloom (who gets them from local farmers) and it has been amazing. The eggs (grown in Fallston) have such a different taste than grocery store eggs. The milk comes in class jars and is bottled less than 20 miles from where we live the day before it is delivered. It actually doesn’t cost too much more than the grocery store (in fact, I think I spend LESS on prodcue but get more), and the fact that I know I am not eating TONS of pesticides and supporting farmers in this county make it well worth it!
Amen, citizen. Same goes for the local meats at Broom’s Bloom, they just taste better than your run of the mill meat from grocery stores.
The Bel Air farmer’s market is the place to be for good, local food!
Russ Kovach says
You may also want to consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). For an up-front fee members get fantastic (and most importantly local) fruits and vegetables that can be eaten and/or preserved for winter. Buying local and joining CSA’s sometimes cost a bit more than purchasing stuff in super markets, but you more than make up the difference by increases in the both the quality of food and quality of life that are a result!
Legal but Socialist says
Does it make sense that the Dem Party and socialists share their entire philosophy? Sad to me, but true. What is a progressive but a socialist?
Yeah…”Buy Local” great idea BUT a farse. A few years ago a local “Buy Local” farm on Rt 155 had his barn painted. The contractor did a great job But…..his trucks had Pa. plates. Not only out of county ///out of state. There are lots of paintin companies in Harford county that could have done the job and keep the money local.
Hoyt (Roll Tide) Corkins says
Fran Johnson sounds like a whiney lib to me.
we all would love to buy Local,and I do my best to do that~ But Farmer’s and the Like must be competitive with price. Brad’s is good stuff but very high in pricing. The famer’s market,great ok But the pricing is high and the people who sell it want to make it all in that wekend? Now, it is not fair i agree to count another man’s change,but With the fact’s as they are and selling there own produce cost’s should be the same or lower than convential market, produce? Yes give them a bit more to help support.but I have seen some really high pricing from Brad’s and others.. I still buy but less than I would . Just a thought!
I understand your concern about prices to a degree, but there are a number of factors that you have to remember when looking at prices. One of the most prevailing is the cost of acreage in this area. It is astronomically more expensive than ground in the midwest, Canada, or Latin America (where a lot of supermarket produce comes from).
You used Brad’s Produce in your example. I believe that he rented ground for many years when he was getting started, before he was able to buy his own ground. Similarly, Harman’s bought ground along 22 in the last decade. It’s not cheap. I wouldn’t want to know what their monthly mortgage payments are.
Also, local produce farms are quite small when compared to the large-scale operations that are supplying supermarkets. Those big guys can take advantage of economies of scale to a degree that local farms can’t. While you may think the local farms are making money hand-over-fist, they most likely are under a mountain of debt for their land, buildings, and equipment. It can take operations like that 10-20 years before they make their first $1.
I choose to buy local whenever I can because it helps keep land in agriculture (as opposed to being developed), and because I actually know where my food comes from. And most importantly, it tastes better! To me, it is worth an extra dollar here and there for that peace of mind.
Todd Holden says
how many who ply their veggies at various ‘Farmer’s Markets’ are buying bulk, in Jessup and toting the goods up here, and slamming them down in brown paper bags as ‘local produce’, Buy Local, sure, like Lohr’s…but a lot of the rest are bullshit
H. Corkins, Jr. says
I’ve wondered the same thing, but I asked someone in the know whom I trust. He said that all of the Farmers Markets have rules to prevent that, and every year vendors’ farms are inspected and verified that they are growing the goods themselves. And if another vendor at a market gets wind of somebody else buying from Jessup, they sure as heck are gonna report them.
As for buying on the farm at Lohr’s or Grimmel’s or one of the others, the good thing is that you can see the stuff growing in the fields.
Now, the guy in the pick-up truck on the side of the road, or in the parking lot of the VFW… well, you just never know. So I stick to farmers’ markets and on-farm stands.
dave you make some very good point’s and i feel better about spending the extra dollars now to support Local Growers. I understand the effort and expense of farmer’s country wide. But the fact still remains. We all in buisness at what ever level do struggle,there debt Albeit a factor, should not enter in it as much as it does. We make choices for buisness and purchases. i will support based on your strong agrument,but at the end of the day less profit and more volumne sales might equate better to all!
Debbie Fratini, Fastframe Bel Air says
Kudos to Fran Johnson for her tireless devotion to the “Keep It Local” concept, in this instance when it comes to the food we purchase and consume.
The value of consuming locally grown and raised foods cannot be underestimated. It seems folks are willing to pay more for local food not only because their purchase supports a local business, but, more importantly, because it affords them the opportunity to eat fresh, nutritious foods. Research shows that locally grown and raised foods provide the much needed nutrition that is sadly missing in most foods obtained from today’s traditional sources. It stands to reason that a fruit recently picked, an egg laid yesterday or the grass fed animal properly raised and butchered will taste and be better for you than foods that have crossed the country or even the border two or three weeks ago or more. As someone who has adopted a more wholesome, healthy way of eating I can attest to the savings realized by buying the “more expensive” food. I firmly believe if the nutritional value of the food you eat is markedly increased; you’ll need less of it, feel better, have lots of new found energy and generally stay healthier – hence the savings.
PS: I’m trying to determine how the promotion of buying locally grown/produced foods translates into the writer being a whiney liberal. I agree with Fran’s writing, lock, stock and barrel and in my circle of friends I am known as a non-whiney conservative.