This Saturday marks the end of the 15th Anniversary season of the St. Michaels FRESHFARM Market. Several new faces appeared at the market this season with Route 33 Baking Company and Cabin Creek Heritage Farm joining market stalwarts such as Butter Pot, Sand Hill Farm and Anchor Nursery to make the market better than ever! Our thanks go out to everyone in the St. Michaels community for their continued support.
To celebrate our 15 years as a part of this wonderful community, our local farmers founded a new food preservation program that aims to preserve the harvest of fresh, local food and then distribute that food to those in need within the community. It is a program we hope will grow over the next 15 years. We asked Kathy Basin, a local writer and long-time supporter of the market, to share more about the program.
In St. Michaels, the wooden carrot signs seen hanging on Talbot St. are funding an important new partnership between the St. Michaels FRESHFARM Market and the St. Michaels Community Food Pantry at Christ Church.
Most locals know that St. Michaels holds both a Saturday farmers market, and also has a food bank operation out of Christ Church, that offers food to needy neighbors every week. But with the new addition of the commercial kitchen housed in the St. Michaels Housing Authority’s building on Dodson St., volunteers are now teaming up to help extend the season.
The idea grew out of a desire by the FRESHFARM Market team to find a special way to celebrate their 15th year of operations in St. Michaels. According to Carol Bean, St. Michaels FRESHFARM Market Manager, it made sense to build on the already successful partnership with the food pantry. For years, the farmers would donate produce to the pantry at the conclusion of each farmers market. By adding the new food preservation program, healthy food will be available year round, and local farmers are supported at the same time.
Local residents and businesses have purchased the carrot signs for $50 each at the Saturday farmer’s market, and wrote their own message on them. Those funds go directly to local farmers to purchase fresh produce, that is then cleaned, picked, and preserved by volunteer teams through canning, sauces, jams and freezer bags, and are in storage for the winter.
“Our goal is to offer more produce and protein during the winter months” said Beth Eckel of the St. Michaels Community Food Pantry. “This project helps us offer healthy food year round to the men and women who rely on us to help feed their families” she said.
Carol Bean said that the ultimate goal is to offer food preservation classes to anyone who wants them, sharing the knowledge and skills directly with people who need the food. “We’ve been offering food preservation classes for years, but this time, we’re aiming to reach a broader audience” said Bean. “These first few sessions are practice rounds, so we can get comfortable in the new kitchen and figure out how to include more people.”
And as far as practice rounds go, they’ve been quite fruitful. So far, the group has put up 60 bags of corn, 50 bags of lima beans, 50 jars of jam and 70 jars of tomato sauce…a strong start for a new program that’s bringing the best of our local foods to the neediest of our neighbors.
~ Kathy Bosin, guest blogger. As a master gardener, hobby photographer, writer and food-lover, Kathy captures her observations about life in Talbot County on A Chesapeake Journal as well as the Talbot Spy. She is an accomplished small business owner and an oyster “dock-qua-culture” enthusiast.