“We have billboards right now promoting Maryland watermelons, sweet corn and everything else in season,” said Mark Powell, chief of agriculture and seafood marketing for the department of agriculture.
“We’re doing advertising promotions in the Baltimore and D.C. regions, on radio, print magazines,” he said.
“We are doing a big push to get people to buy Maryland produce where they can.”
In addition to advertising, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has been working with chain stores to supply Maryland’s Best point-of-sale materials this summer.
The Maryland Department of Ag offers a web page featuring the location and contact information for the state’s farmers markets, and an interactive map of direct marketers of fresh vegetables.
With restaurants closed or at limited capacity during much of the pandemic, Powell said grocery stores have been moving big volumes of local fruits and vegetables.
The “Keep Calm and Carry Out” social media campaign is a partnership between the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Office of Tourism and the Maryland
Restaurant Association to promote local food at the many restaurants across the state that continue to offer carry-out and delivery services.
A full list of restaurants with carryout is available for consumers on visitmaryland.org.
Powell said the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program has been helpful to area distributors who lost restaurant sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some distributors also sold produce boxes directly to consumers.
“The food box program that USDA came out with has really helped distributors (with food box contracts),” he said.
“We are hoping that there can be more local produce boxes in the third round,” he said.
In September, the Maryland Department of Agriculture is having a joint promotion with the Maryland Restaurant Association.
Featuring three competitions on Sept 9, Sept. 16 and Sept. 23, the events are qualifying competitions for the World Food Championships in November.
“The idea was to promote restaurants, assuming they are open,” he said.
Whether restaurants are fully open by then or just offering curbside pickup, the competition will go on in September, he said.
“Whatever the situation is, we will be doing this promotion to really try to push the restaurants and their sales, and try to help the industry that way,” Powell said.