Prime Time Living - Page 30 - Interview from page 14

Prime Time Living
- Page 30
Interview from page 14
of Agriculture ( www.nrcs.usda.gov ), the Natural Resources Conservation Service has implemented a plan that will help farmers, forest landowners and partners improve water quality, boost soil health and enhance fish and wildlife habitat in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

As Bartenfelder explains, “Maryland farmers have made great strides in preventing nutrients from reaching our waterways. When I go to conferences and meetings across the country, we’re recognized, not as an example of what goes wrong, but as a model of what to do right. With that said, this is a team effort and we are hopeful that our fellow Bay states will follow that lead.” He also meets regularly with his counterparts in other Chesapeake Bay states to figure out how to share ideas and work together.

But not everything is going well for farmers. “Last year’s weather was tough on all of us, just too much rain. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this year is better. And our dairy industry is in dire straits, as it is nationwide. Studies show that in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, people are drinking less milk. The good news is they still eat a lot of ice cream and cheese,” Bartenfelder smiles. “A lot of ice cream.”

Part of Bartenfelder’s job is to uncover opportunities for Maryland’s products beyond its borders and to promote them whenever and wherever possible. Part of that promotion is Maryland’s Best (www.marylandsbest.net). “Its mission is to link Maryland farmers with consumers through its website, promotions and advertising.”

Many people aren’t aware of the variety of products Maryland produces: wines, seafoods, plants, fruits and vegetables, turf and seed, poultry and eggs, and more. The website also has information about farms that offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), recipes from its annual cookbooks, and information on what crops are available at different times of year. There’s also a Farm to School program.

Next Sunday, when you drop by the Baltimore Farmers’ Market, keep an eye out for Joe Bartenfelder. He’s always smiling and happy to talk about the best that Maryland has to offer. Tell him I sent you. •