Local value-added ag emphasized at holiday market
CLARKSVILLE, Md. — Built around the theme of a European Christmas market, December’s Winter Holiday Hive Market marked the second collaboration between Katy Miller’s Honeybee Home of Ellicott City, Md., and Mary’s Land Farm.
As with the prior market operations in September, this market featured several dozen regional vendors of unique and original products — which includes several selling value-added agriculture products or hand-crafted products sourced from their local farms.
The collaboration’s emphasis on local sourcing fits the goals of Mary’s Land Farm and its owner, Tom Cunningham, according to Stephanie Kribs, Mary’s Land Farm’s on-site retail store manager.
On Dec. 15, the last day of the event, the store was doing a brisk business selling not only the farm’s pasture raised meats and eggs from the farm’s chickens and ducks, but also offerings from Secolari Artisan Oils and Vinegars, which Mary’s Land has partnered with, along with similar value-added products from other local featured vendors.
“We’re a hidden gem, and Katy’s Market is a great event to encourage people to come and take a look at what we’re doing,” said Kribs. “It’s always been part of our plan to give people a peek into what it takes to run a farm responsibly,” she continued. “Plus, it gives people a chance to meet a lot of interesting vendors, many of whom are local.”
The market also gave Mary’s Land Farm an opportunity to showcase the first floor rooms of its recently renovated farmhouse bed and breakfast, which, Kribs noted, should be opening soon.
“We plan to host events where people can come and focus on having a healthy respite,” she said.
Several vendors at the market appreciated Cunningham’s goal of reaching out to the local community as a market for their farms.
“It’s hard to understand why farms in the region continue to produce commodities, when within a 300 mile circumference, you have one-third of the U.S. population available for high-quality, direct-to-consumer, value-added agricultural products,” said Glen Cauffman, from Pure American Naturals, an Angora goat farm producing high-quality mohair fibers in nearby Pennsylvania.
Cauffman said he encourages the region’s farmers to “look beyond the farm gate” to find their own value-added markets.
“If I can go beyond the farm gate to New York City,” to market his mohair fibers to the retail fashion industry, “then you can go to the nearest restaurant or find the local foodie entrepreneur and market your farm products,” he said.
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