This blog post is by Shelby Kalm, Fair Farms Outreach Coordinator
It’s hard to find a store where you can be sure that 100% of the offerings are local. Sometimes the produce may be local, but the flour and grain are shipped in from far, far away. Maybe the meat comes from only a few miles away, but the produce is all the way from California.
This is where Chesapeake’s Bounty comes in. Chesapeake’s Bounty is the only business where 100% of its products are grown and processed in their area, and they support an economic network of hundreds of local people. When I was living in St. Mary’s County, the store quickly became a staple for my purchases. I was fascinated by the unique offerings that you couldn’t find elsewhere, like locally-grown grain from Next Step Produce, or Pink Sapphire Kraut from Oksana’s Produce.
Not long into my habitual Chesapeake Bounty runs, I became involved with their Participatory Agriculture program where folks could work on the Bounty’s garden in exchange for produce. I quickly began to develop a sense of community with others that frequented the store. From this community I learned everything from how to dehydrate mushrooms to the best way to brew kombucha.
It wasn’t long after I moved back to Baltimore that the North Beach location of Chesapeake’s Bounty was up and running. Things seemed to be going well from my occasional visits and social media check-ins, but after speaking with Will Kreamer, the store’s owner, about how the new location was doing, it was clear that the consumer demand didn’t quite meet their expectations. Despite the momentum of the good food movement, one-stop shops where folks can buy food and and toilet paper, and cleaning supplies, and anything else one might need were still dominating.
That is until Will announced to the public the closing of the North Beach location. There was an immediate response from community members, including over 500 comments and messages from Facebook supporters urging the business to stay open. What was initially supposed to be the Bounty’s farewell potluck turned into a brainstorm session focused on how to keep the North Beach location of the store alive and well.
People offered to volunteer at the store and support the Bounty in any way that they could. Others shared stories about how this operation was more than just a store, but also a de facto community center that had encouraged relationship building and had become an integral part of their lives. I understood this well, as I benefited from the strong sense of community I had developed at the Saint Leonard location a few years earlier.
Since that farewell potluck-turned strategy meeting, Will has come up with a new plan for the North Beach location. He aims to highlight the community-building element of the Bounty by hosting more community-centered events like food processing and hydroponic herb cultivation. After the overwhelming support from customers, Will believes that this model works as a scalable option that allows frequent visitors to connect with their neighbors in a way that you don’t typically see at other food retailers. He also hopes to help others start projects and stores like this in their communities.
When making your own food purchases, spending that extra effort to find a store that offers a local hub that supports local farmers and promotes community-building has a huge impact on the success of the good food movement near you. And you might just make a few new friends along the way!
Please join Fair Farms in helping keep to support this community business by visiting either location and purchasing a gift card, or by ordering cards over the phone and receiving your gift card by text or email. This will help Chesapeake Bounty to continue to stay in business and make it through the difficult winter season. You will have a sound financial investment that you can redeem throughout the year! More information:
- You can order cards over the phone and receive your card via text or email.
- Call (443) 646-5700 for the North Beach location.
- Call (410) 586-3881 for the Saint Leonard location.
- Gift Cards only work at the location where purchased.