Garrett County Harvests Innovation: "Buy Local" Tools Are Farm-Friendly, Tech-Savvy

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Garrett County is harvesting new agricultural resources, and they’re anything but garden variety. The Garrett County Department of Economic Development is excited to promote local food initiatives that educate consumers and stimulate the economy.

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Garrett County is home to over 600 farms growing foods, feeds, fibers and other farm products that are high in quality,” said Economic Development Director Michael Koch. “And our farmers’ ingenuity is paying off.

Garrett County is harvesting new agricultural resources, and they’re anything but garden variety. The Garrett County Department of Economic Development is excited to promote local food initiatives that educate consumers and stimulate the economy.

“Garrett County is home to over 600 farms growing foods, feeds, fibers and other farm products that are high in quality,” said Economic Development Director Michael Koch. “And our farmers’ ingenuity is paying off. Last year, they produced over $20 million in sales.”

Seventy of these farms are center stage on the new Garrett Farms website (http://www.garrettfarms.org). The site, funded in part by a USDA and the Maryland Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Grant, features an index of local farms, profiles of the offerings at each farm, and events promoting the Buy Fresh, Buy Local, Live Well effort within the County. Whether consumers seek homegrown preserves, pumpkins, or pork, the site is a smorgasbord of all things local.

Garrett County’s Local Food & Farm Guide is another resource designed to connect farmers and consumers. Made possible in part by the same Specialty Crop Grant, the guide allows users without internet access to search for local farms and foods in a hard copy booklet, available at the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center in McHenry and the University of Maryland Extension Office in Mt. Lake Park.

Of all the tools in their arsenal, the County considers their partners in the local food movement to be their greatest assets. One such partner, the Garrett Growers Cooperative, expanded sales of locally-farmed fresh produce to area restaurants, caterers, and grocers. This appreciation of local food—from Arrowhead Market to Arby’s—mirrors a shift on a global scale. People are increasingly aware of where their food comes from and how it’s farmed and prepared.

“We’re excited to help farmers get the tools they need to market their products and help consumers make informed choices,” said Cheryl DeBerry, Natural Resources Business Specialist for Garrett County Economic Development. DeBerry, who hails from a long line of farmers, is helping Garrett County reinvent its rural economy.

To learn more, or to have your farm included on the Garrett Farms site, contact Cheryl DeBerry at: 301-334-6968 or cdeberry(at)garrettcounty(dot)org.

About Garrett County, Maryland:
Nestled in the mountains of Western Maryland, Garrett County features high elevations—and higher opportunities for prosperity. Lured by an abundance of resources and natural beauty, over 900 businesses elevate their workforce—and profit margins—in Garrett County. Boasting a solid workforce and affordable real estate, Garrett County blends modern conveniences with country living. Efficient by design, our technology and transportation infrastructure redefine rural life, offering convenience and proximity to key markets.

In Garrett County, we’re reinventing rural. True to our heritage, we help agri-businesses harvest resources and bring their products to market. Visit: http://www.reinventingrural.com to learn more.

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