The Department of Agriculture hosted the first of Maryland Gov. Wes Moore’s Buy Local Cookouts on Thursday. Outside of the Wayne A. Cawley Jr. building, banjo music played from an erected stage while numerous numbers of Maryland’s agricultural community gathered to sample local offerings from across the state and learn about how to improve their harvest.
Sudano’s Produce, Farm Credit and the Rural Maryland Council were the gold sponsors of the event.
Featuring signs dedicated to spotting the invasive spotted lantern fly species when walking into the cookout, Marylanders from all over signed up to try a menu of diverse and flavorful options.
The sides of the buildings hosted vendors with info on topics ranging from mosquito control, to water conservation and animal health. There were even 3-D printed footballs distributed by the Department of Agriculture’s Chemistry Section, free for the taking.
The crowd of over 250 could try Miss Shirley’s “Crabby Grilled Cheese” and the “Chesapeake Chowder” from Caroline Culinary Arts Center if they had a taste for local seafood. Sweets lovers could get “Black Rock Orchard’s Upside Down Cake” from Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen. Guests could wash any of those down with a “Lavender Basil Buzz Lemonade” from Jillian’s Fare or for a harder kick, a “Blueberry Lemonade Moonshine” from Pathfinder Farms distillery.
Black Betty’s Cuisine, a Baltimore City-based business, was invited to attend by the Department of Agriculture. Black Betty’s owner Kira Coate is a chef who believes in taking care of her produce from farm to table.
“What I want people to take away is sourcing locally and supporting urban farmers,” she said. “That’s why I’m here, with Farmer Chippy and Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm. It’s important to eat fresh and from scratch.”
“The Department of Agriculture, Steve Connelly, in particular, along with Kevin Atticks and Mark Powell, those guys have been significantly important in promoting urban agriculture throughout Maryland,” said Farmer Chippy, a well-known Black farmer who has been promoting the practice in Baltimore City for years after coming from his native Trinidad.
“This is the first year of the Department of Agriculture giving urban farm grants, with the new secretary of agriculture. With Atticks, we don’t have to worry about getting what we need.”
Gov. Moore appointed Atticks as his Secretary of Agriculture following his leadership of the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council and the Brewer’s Association of Maryland, amongst other agricultural organizations.
Lynne Forsman, the co-founder of Annapolis Green, stood by to offer cool water to those in need from the water filtration system she provided. She calls it the Naptown Tap, a nod to Annapolis’ nickname. “This is the first time that we’ve been able to make this event zero waste,” she said.
“Through Secretary Atticks and his team, everything from the event will be composted or recycled.”
When Moore arrived, he made a beeline for the catfish nuggets. He said they were delicious before shaking hands alongside Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller (D), then stopped for ice cream at Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail before he gradually made his way through the assembled vendors.
Secretary of State Susan Lee spoke highly of the catfish along with the crab cake.
She admitted she planned to sample everything she could, as she made the rounds.
“I’m proud to be supporting Maryland businesses,” she said as she poured dill relish onto her hot dog. “The sausage dish with eggplant was also really good!”