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Category Archives: Farms

A Tale of Two Counties

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Specifically …

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… suburban Howard County.

And …

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… rural Howard County.

What prompted this post was an editorial in the Sun during the Howard County Fair. Not far off the mark, about the differences between those two worlds. Also I was intrigued that the county will be offering a Farm Academy starting in October.

The first session is out at Triadelphia Lake View Farm. Details to sign up will be on the Live Green Howard page next month.

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I wrote about them in my Farm series. They are known throughout the county due to their participation in a number of farmer’s markets and their pumpkin fields and cut your own Christmas trees.

For many people moving out of Columbia into the new developments all over the once rural west county, learning to live with combines, tractors, manure spreaders, noise from machinery and the other everyday occurrences on the farms has been enlightening to say the least. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people saying that the surrounding rural lands have unsightly buildings or fields.

We don’t all live on manicured lawns, and many outbuildings get a bit rusty. There are no covenants or HOAs out here in the older areas. Which is why many of us live here.

Learning to respect those who have farmed or who run businesses here is important. Trying to force the farmers to restrict what they do isn’t the way to peacefully coexist.

Yes, cow manure reeks. It’s a spring ritual out here to fertilize the fields. It isn’t noxious. It isn’t hazardous. It is necessary to maintain good soil for planting. Yes, we need tall strong fences to keep livestock in. Strength is more important than looks to keep horses, goats, sheep, alpacas, cattle, dairy cows and hogs where they belong.

Yes, there are naturally growing meadows that get harvested when the weather cooperates. I just close my windows and turn on the A/C if my allergies go a little crazy when my surrounding neighbors bring in the equipment to cut and bale hay.

If you ever wanted to learn more about how people live out here beyond Clarksville, check out this new initiative. And thank TLV when you see them at the markets for volunteering to be the first host.

And if you really want to know why we love it out here so much, scenes like this are way better than all the words I could write.

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Don’t Miss

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At the Howard County Fair starting Saturday. Some new things. Old things. Every year it keeps getting bigger and better, yet the favorites still remain.

Like the Critter Barn.

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Or the daily pig races. Every day. Check out the events highlights here.

We like wandering around the barns looking at the animals.

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This year there’s a new addition to the fair. A beer garden. Thanks to Howard County’s home grown brewery. Manor Hill. They will be located at the rear of the main exhibition hall.

There’s a few more special events this year too. And old favorites that must be done. Like getting fresh squeezed lemonade. Or a soft serve cone.

For us we also love wandering the home arts building looking at the photographs. The farm and garden building, including buying our supply of honey from the beekeepers.

On our way out, we will get peaches from the farm stand, and Bowling Green cheese.

Our future farmers spend the week there. It’s a labor of love. Come support them.

This sums it up quite well.

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Fair Weather

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Today let’s talk about the weather. The weather that impacts gardeners and farmers. The weather that influences what we harvest. And whether, for me, it’s good enough to give me flavorful heirloom tomatoes.

Growing these tomatoes was on my bucket list. My 50 things I wanted to do before I die. Back 12 years ago when I turned 50 I wrote that list. Before we bought this house in the country. Before I ever tilled and weeded and suffered through our awful summers.

This year our county fair is a week later than the past. Giving me more time to get those heirlooms ripe. Except all that rain has made them a mess.

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They are cracked. They aren’t as full of flavor. Still, I try and pick the best ones to submit.

Submissions are due by Saturday morning, although I try to get mine in on Friday night. Today, I harvested all my leeks. I picked one of my unusual vegetables, hoping I may get a better one Thursday. I still haven’t chosen my herbs.

If you have never made it to the county fair, you really ought to come out.

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Come see what our traffic jams look like. Ride a few rides. Have some unhealthy foods. The fair runs from Saturday to Saturday. We like heading over there early before the crowds. And we buy a season pass.

See you at the fair?

Code Red Days

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The temperatures are soaring. It was supposed to rain today and cool it off, but so far, no such luck. Sunday and Monday the temperatures were in the high nineties and the heat index in triple digits.

Just think how hard the farmers have it, dealing with heat while trying to harvest, feed the animals and do all those other chores. If your days are spent going from A/C home to A/C car to A/C job to A/C car to A/C restaurant to A/C home, you have it easy.

We spent part of Sunday (early) dealing with some yard things. Not too long. Monday I had to go weed, harvest and water my garden. That hour and a half was brutal, so I can’t imagine having to spend hours getting things ready for CSAs, markets and deliveries.

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Not to mention working in steamy kitchens in the restaurants. My hat is off to those who have to work outside in this weather, and to those working the line making your farm to table meals.

If you hit any of the markets this week during the Buy Local Challenge, or go out for Restaurant week, take the time to thank those who make it possible. They aren’t sitting in front of an A/C vent. Also, take time to vote for your favorite adult beverage, and go try a few at the local restaurants. They have a “Garden to Glass” competition going on.

No matter what, keep supporting our local small businesses. And let them know you appreciate them.

Remember the saying, If You Can Read This, Thank a Teacher.

How about —- Before you eat that, thank a farmer.

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Breaking Bread

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#buylocalchallenge.

Starts tomorrow. I have been talking about options above and beyond the standard fruit and vegetables. Like cheese. But, what’s cheese without good bread? Did you know many of our local bakeries source ingredients from Maryland farms? So, you can support local farmers, and small businesses, by buying their breads during the challenge. Or by eating at their bakeries.

Like Atwaters. In Catonsville, near us, and in many places across the Baltimore area.

Here is a link to their sources. Here is a link to their current menu in Catonsville. I have blogged many times about the quality of Atwaters. You can also buy their bread at many markets, like Olney.

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Moving on. Closer to us. The Breadery. In Oella. So many things to find there. They also come to local markets. On a recent visit to the store in Oella, we found their stash of olive oils. Perfect for bread dipping.

Great Harvest Rosemary Lavender Focaccia. Discovered at Breezy Willow. Made with the herbs from the farm. Nothing like it toasted with a creamy fresh chevre.

Stone House Bakery. Another local bakery that sources items from the surrounding farms. Check out their ingredients. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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There are even more local bakeries in the state. Far better products from small businesses.

And if you want to bake your own using local grains, Next Step Produce can help you with that project.

A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou. I’ve covered the first two. On the third, you’re on your own.

Next up. Meat, seafood and eggs.

The Big Cheese

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Today let’s talk about local cheese.

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Cheese like Shepherd’s Manor Creamery Ewe Cream Cheese. Which you can find in many farmer’s markets and at Friends and Farms, where we discovered it. The dairy is in New Windsor MD. I love sheep’s milk cheese, and also goat’s milk cheese as they work for us lactose intolerant people.

Olney on Sundays is the closest farmer’s market where you can get this cheese.

Let’s move to Firefly Farms and Cherry Glen. Outstanding goat’s milk creameries. Their cheeses vary. I love Firefly’s chevre more than Cherry Glen, but CG’s Monocacy Ash is awesome.

I think we discovered Firefly at a Turf Valley Home Show, and Cherry Glen, we bought at Roots Market.

Goat’s milk cheese has that tang, that slightly different taste.

As for cow’s milk cheese, lots of options around here. Bowling Green is local and available at many farmer’s markets and farmstands. I really like their “feta” to put in my watermelon salad.

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From yesterday’s post you saw a picture of a fresh mozzarella from South Mountain Creamery. There is nothing like fresh mozzarella. Only thing better than buying a local one is making it yourself from local milk.

Oh, and a PA source for goat cheese. Linden Dale Farm. Their feta made from goat’s milk graced this watermelon salad.

Hey, it’s Buy Local Days. What could be better than cheese? Tomorrow, bread to go with it.

@mdsbest

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The Buy Local Challenge. Coming next week to our area. Are you taking the challenge? Will you be eating a local food at least once a day for the nine days of the challenge?

This year they have included the Farm to Table restaurants in the challenge. If your local restaurant features local foods on the menu, you can help both the farmers and the independent restaurant owners.

Every day until the challenge is over, I will be giving tips on where and how to eat locally, and to buy locally produced items.

I mean, it can be really easy. How about wine, beer or ice cream? A glass of local wine or beer a day. How easy is that? Or, ice cream from the local farms around here. Like Baugher’s. Or the eight dairies on the MD Ice Cream Trail.

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Hmm, a nine day event. Nine places to eat ice cream. Sounds like a plan to me.

Beer!

Head off to Victoria’s GastroPub for Manor Hill draft beers. Brewed here in Howard County. Four of them available.

Head up to Black Ankle. Or Elk Run. Or Sugarloaf Mountain. Or Old Westminster. Or Big Cork. All local wineries making wines with grapes grown in Maryland.

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Every day. A different local beer or wine.

Yep, you don’t have to buy vegetables to excel in the Buy Local Challenge.

Oh, I forgot cheese. There are many local cheese makers in the state. More on them tomorrow.

But, if you are into veggies, Wednesday through Sunday, the county has seven farmer’s markets. If you want to do something different, head out to Larriland to pick berries.

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No excuses. Eating locally is easy.

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