Video: Building a Local Food System on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

Guest blog post by Maryland farmers Bob & Liz Brightman

Bob and Liz BrightmanHere in Princess Anne, a town of 3,000+ on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore, we are a rare breed of farmers. Ours is a small-scale, regenerative farming operation. We don’t use any chemicals, we planted a seven forage perennial pasture, and we use rotational grazing of chickens and goats to regenerate the pasture and build healthy soil. We sell directly to our customers at local farmers markets and stores. We are proud to help feed our community.  

The vast majority of farms in this area either raise chickens for big companies, or they grow grains as poultry feed. As a result, the agricultural landscape on the Shore is not a diverse one like it used to be several generations ago. This industrial model of ‘monoculture’ farming leaves the region’s farmers and economy vulnerable, by putting “all our eggs in one basket”, as they say. We are also very concerned about negative affects to our natural environment, tourism and property values from industrial farming. The Delmarva Peninsula is in an ideal location to serve metropolitan areas on the east coast with diversified agriculture, which has a growing consumer demand.

Please watch this video to learn why diversifying Maryland’s farming economy is so important.

More than ever, people crave connection with local, sustainable, healthy food. We believe that as a nation, we need to teach the world to feed itself—and we’re working to do so right here in our corner of the state. The real key is understanding soil health.

For us, Fair Farms means a diverse farming economy and a more locally-based food system that supports farmers like us, rather than trucking food from California or Mexico around the country, wearing down our roads and putting more fossil fuel exhaust into the atmosphere.

Our land is situated right on Big Monie Creek, which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. We love the Eastern Shore, and we’re proud that our way of farming is building healthy soils that help fight climate change by absorbing excess carbon, reducing water run-off, and producing more nutrient-dense food. We’re trying to be the change we want to see in the world.

Our farmland belonged to Bob’s grandfather, and if we’re lucky, we’ll pass it along to our grandchildren. We have gone out on a limb to farm the way we do. It’s time to get more farmers the technical, financial, and marketplace support needed to transition to an increasingly sustainable and local-based food system. This helps local economies, which will grow our national economy by year-round production using newer green methods.

It will take time, but let’s start with our generation, and build it for those to come.

@FairFarms

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