Maryland chefs will collaborate with local growers July 19 for the fifth-annual Buy Local Challenge Cookout hosted by Governor Martin O’Malley at the Maryland governor’s mansion in Annapolis.
The cookout starts a weeklong promotion encouraging Marylanders to eat locally grown produce, said Mark Powell, chief of marketing and agribusiness development for the Maryland Department of Agriculture in Annapolis.
According to the Maryland Agriculture Statistics Service, the state’s vegetable production totaled $61 million in 2010, with $19 million worth of fruit. Maryland growers produced about 42.5 million pounds of apples, 4,000 tons of peaches and 714,000 cwt. of potatoes in 2010, Powell said.
To show the growing demand for local food, the number of Maryland farmers selling directly to consumers via farmers markets, farm stands and community supported agriculture grew from 1,168 farms in 2002 to 1,407 in 2007, he said.
“The value of those sales increased from $12.5 million to $21.2 million,” Powell said.
The department promotes local produce through promotions and advertising in the Baltimore and Washington area.
“We also work with produce buyers to help them source locally,” he said.