Harford County debuts new ag center
STREET, Md. — Harford County debuted This month its new agricultural center that consolidates several local farm agencies’ offices under one roof and allows room for future expansion.
The county government hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday, May 5 that included farmers, residents and regional agricultural officials who toured the new center on Conowingo Road.
The county’s soil conservation district, the University of Maryland Extension, the county Farm Bureau and the Maryland Department of Forest Pest Management have already moved into the new building.
Future phases of the project could include a farmers’ market, an agricultural expo center and a walking trail connecting county-owned open space nearby, officials said.
“There have been task forces over the years, and for as many as 20 years, we’ve always talked about having an ag center where we could consolidate all our ag services and preserve Harford County’s agricultural heritage,” County Executive Barry Glassman said during the ceremony. “This spot will certainly grow and serve future generations of farmers, from research and preservation and all that we do to really help celebrate and preserve Harford County’s farming history.”
The new center saves the county $52,000 in rent per year and generates about $27,000 in lease income, a county statement said.
The Extension hopes to eventually run test plots of farmland on the property, said Andrew Kness, an Extension agent.
The soil conservation district may also demonstrate best management practices on the land.
“It’ll be pretty neat,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to work together just because we can walk down the hall. I think the big benefit for the farmers is they can come here and hit every agency that they need to, like, cover crop certification, nutrient management stuff. They can talk to me about production recommendations, all of it in the same building, under the same house.”
To create the center, the county renovated a former furniture store, adding a new parking lot and other improvements.
It’s also next door to the county’s historic Joesting-Gorsuch House, which the county saved, relocated from a Bel Air golf course and restored in 2016. The home dates back to the 1700s and is considered one of the county’s oldest structures.
People streamed into the grand opening starting at noon, perusing literature and displays from various farm agencies. In one of the center’s new presentation rooms, Jennifer Dixon Craven, an Extension family and consumer science educator, weighed people and offered exercise and health advice. Outside, drinks and barbecue were sold.
Bernie Bodt, an expert on the history of regional canning, arranged a display at the Joesting-Gorsuch House on canning artifacts, including metal coins created by canneries and given to employees to use as currency in the early 20th century.
“It’s absolutely magnificent,” he said of the new ag center. “You’ve got a one-stop shop.”