Agriculture is an integral part of Maryland’s economy, and it’s increasingly important in difficult times like these, when food availability and access to it become challenging for our local community. In Charles County, there are at least two farms that not only offer a variety of farm fresh products directly to consumers, but also partner with local organizations to feed the hungry.
Located on the urban fringe of Waldorf, Shlagel Farms is a Maryland Century Farm, having been actively farming for more than one hundred years. Shlagel Farms specializes in fruit and vegetable production and sells through wholesale and retail channels. Along with their products appearing in certain grocery stores and various restaurants, Shlagel Farms sells at several farmers markets throughout the DMV and on-farm when in season. In season, Shlagel Farms also invites the community to pick their own strawberries. As Spring approaches, when a variety of produce will become available, Shlagel Farms is currently selling root vegetables and overwintered greens from their store, along with meats, eggs, and honey.
The farm not only makes fresh produce readily available to the local community for purchase, but also ensures food that would otherwise go to waste is directed to feed families in need. They donate excess or imperfect seasonal produce to the Arnold House, an organization based in Waldorf that delivers meals and other basic necessities to those in need. Recently, Shlagel Farms has expanded its donations to include plenty of protein through a State crop management program.
For many farms, deer are a nuisance and a primary cause of crop damage. To manage crop damage, Shlagel Farms has taken the appropriate steps to qualify for an Agricultural Deer Cooperator Permit issued by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The purpose of this operation is to diminish the significant crop damage that occurs due to the overpopulation of deer. Through this permit, harvested deer can’t be wasted. It is processed locally, and the venison is delivered to the Arnold House.
Further east in Bryantown, Bowling Green Farm is a family operation that provides customers the opportunity to pay-it-forward with farm fresh products. This family operation produces pork, chicken, and eggs for direct-to-consumer sale. Although the meat and egg operation is only a few years old, the farm has a rich history of tobacco and row crop production. Over the years, the family has developed personal and professional relationships that have been built on to strengthen the local community.
Bowling Green Farm offers products through an online store and meat and eggs available for pick-up on the farm. Online, customers have the option to “Help Feed the Hungry” and purchase meats and eggs that Bowling Green Farm will deliver directly to the food pantry at LifeStyles of Maryland.
With the latest COVID-19 crisis, many of our grocery stores are short on meats and eggs, but our farms are a good source for those goods, as well as home-grown produce as the weather gets warmer. Bowling Green Farm currently has a full range of pork items, from smoked bacon and hams to sausage, scrapple, ribs, roasts and more. They’ll have fresh whole chicken available starting in April, and they usually have a good supply of eggs. They’ve been offering free delivery, with no minimum order, since early March. Customers can also purchase online to donate meat or eggs to help support the food pantry at LifeStyles of Maryland.
Shlagel Farms is currently awaiting Spring to officially arrive so they can start picking fresh produce. In the meantime, they are selling root vegetables from storage and overwintered greens. Additionally, they sell farm-raised beef, pork, and chicken, as well as eggs and honey. They say strawberries are looking good and should be available in less than a month.
When used locally, the value of a food dollar is wide reaching and can have significant benefits to our community and those in need. Perhaps, in times like these, the value of our local farms is appreciated more. For more information on agriculture in Charles County, visit our Charles County Agriculture page on Facebook or contact Martin Proulx at ProulxM@MeetCharlesCounty.com.