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Keyword: maryland agricultural resource council

Produce for the People Initiative to Grow More than 500,000 Pounds per Year to Address Food-Insecurity

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz broke ground this morning on a greenhouse that will be used to grow produce at the County’s Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park in Cockeysville.

The $225,000 greenhouse will be used to support the production of an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 pounds of fresh produce that will be provided to local food banks, homeless shelters and school cafeterias, through the new Produce for the People initiative.

The Produce for the People program will place into production approximately 50 acres of land that will reach full production capacity in approximately three years. To accomplish this goal, the County is constructing of a 48-foot wide by 96-foot long greenhouse that will be used to grow transplants for crops like green beans, sweet corn, potatoes, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes and more. The program will be conducted with assistance from the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council, Inc. (MARC)

“This is a natural progression for us to maximize the benefits of our agriculture center by growing food for hungry people while demonstrating efficient farming and gardening techniques and offering suburbanites the chance to understand the important role that farming plays in our economy and society,” Kamenetz said.

“Given MARC’s longtime agricultural education mission, we naturally look forward to the many educational opportunities to be afforded by the new greenhouse and the Produce for the People project,” said Rick Bernstein, President of Maryland Agricultural Resource Council, Inc.

The greenhouse will also be made available for beneficial programs to be hosted by groups like the Baltimore County Master Gardeners, the Future Harvest New Farmer Program, the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council, Inc., and for therapeutic gardening programs for older children and adults with mental and physical disabilities.

Hunger in our Area

Despite being one of the wealthiest states in the nation, Maryland is home to more than 682,000 people who do not have enough to eat. While homeless people are the most visible faces of hunger, the need for food assistance is rising among children, seniors, and working families. Many people are working full time and still struggling to put food on the table. In fact, 33% of food-insecure individuals in our area earn too much to qualify for federal or state relief. This means that thousands of food-insecure Marylanders rely solely on the food bank and other hunger-relief agencies as they struggle to meet their basic needs.


Get An Orgnic Free-Range Chicken for You and One to Share

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz helped provide a very special chicken lunch to clients of the County’s Westside Shelter this afternoon. The chicken came from one of the first deliveries of poultry raised at the County’s Maryland Agriculture Center and Farm Park in Cockeysville, through a community-supported agriculture program that provides farming education while helping those in need.

“I congratulate our County staff and partners for coming up with this dual-purpose program that helps teach people the value of farming, and, at the same time, provides much-needed food for hungry people,” said Kamenetz. “This is the kind of smart, innovative thinking that turns problems into solutions.”

A Poultry Partnership

 The County departments of Planning and Recreation and Parks partnered with the non-profit organizations, Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC) and Community Assistance Network (CAN) to develop this innovative program that combines social responsibility with agricultural education. Poultry for the People enables anyone to purchase a free-range organic chicken, raised at the 149-acre Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park, and have a second chicken donated to help feed individuals in Baltimore County homeless shelters.

A Chicken for You and One to Share

The non-profit Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC) offers a “buy one-gift one” purchase plan where anyone can purchase a chicken for themselves and one will be donated to a Baltimore County homeless shelter. Purchasers also receive a tax deduction for the majority of the purchase price. Prices and details are available on the MARC website.

 Money raised through the sale of the chickens is used to help fund education programs at the farm park as well as at the County’s homeless shelters. The addition of chickens to the farm also serves to enhance existing educational programs and the overall farm experience of visitors to the park.

“It’s a win-win-win-win” says Richard Watson, President of the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC). “We get to expand farming operations, enhance our educational capacity, connect people to agriculture in a meaningful way, and provide homeless shelters with a consistent source of high-quality protein.”

A fundraising campaign sponsored by MARC on the Kickstarter web site raised $8,000 to cover the infrastructure necessary to care for the chickens including a 4-ton feeder bin, bringing water and electricity to the coop, and making the coop as fox-proof as possible.

Program Offers Nutrition Boost for Homeless Shelter Residents

Protein represents the largest component of any shelter’s food budget. For the balance of the menu, shelters rely on donations made by local churches and other charitable organizations, grocery stores, food pantries, restaurants and bakeries. While the shelters strive to provide well-balanced meals, the donation-based food supply makes meal planning difficult. Chefs work with what they have and are often forced to stretch meals by adding bread, rice or noodles.

Baltimore County Homeless Shelter Administrator, Terri Kingeter explains, “I am excited about the potential of this program to significantly enhance the overall quality of food being served at the homeless shelters. The protein provided by the Poultry for the People program will free up each shelter’s food budget which will help management purchase more fresh produce. We also cannot wait to engage our shelter youth, who comprise 27% of the shelter population, in hands-on experiential learning activities at the shelter and at the farm.” 


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017