The Board of County Commissioners proclaimed the week of July 20 — 28 as Buy Local Challenge Week in Calvert County.

The purpose of the week-long observance is to teach citizens to be mindful of the role agriculture plays, its importance, and to buy local goods.

“It’s where we challenge citizens of Southern Maryland to purchase a locally grown product during a particular week in July,” Commissioner Earl “Buddy” Hance (R). “Consume one local item every single day of that week.”

Hance, who is also a farmer, said the buy local challenge was created by the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission when he was chairman.

“When I became Secretary of Agriculture, I stole it, moved it up and we made it a state event,” Hance said, noting the Governor’s Picnic was born soon after that and was where the challenge was announced as a statewide initiative.

The annual picnic rotates across the state. This year Spider Hill Farm will host the event on July 29. Owner Susan Cox, also known as Mrs. Moo, was on hand for the Tuesday proclamation.

“We’re going to showcase what is grown here in Calvert County,” Hance said.

Calvert County Farm Bureau President Jason Leavitt, Farm Bureau Secretary Kathy Cosgrove, county agricultural development specialist Kelly Swann, Calvert County Farmer’s Market Association Vice Chair Debbie Jones and Miss Calvert Farm Bureau Haley Moore, a senior at Calvert High School, were also in attendance as special guests for the announcement, along with a wide array of products from local farms.

Calvert County has roughly 25,152 acres of farmland dispersed across 280 farms, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

The 2017 figures represent a 24% decrease in farmland from 2012, down from nearly 33,000 acres, and a 4% increase in the number of farms, up from 270 farms, over a five-year period.

Hance said last year $15 million in revenue was generated from agricultural products in the county.

Since 2007 the county has recognized the annual week-long observance designed to support independent and family farms as well as strengthen the local economy.

“You got to change the proclamation to add meat and seafood,” said Jones, whose farm Windy Willow Farm Services sells beef, pork, and lamb.

Farming in the county has diversified to include traditional livestock and produce as well as plants, wine and hops for brewing beer.

Hance encouraged citizens to support the local economy and to “take some time [to] travel around the back roads, and you’ll see some of the wonderful farms we have out scattered around Calvert County.”

Residents can also buy local from county farmers, agri-businesses and watermen at weekly farmers markets around the county.

In Dunkirk District Park, the county plays host to the farmers market and is open seasonally every Thursday, 3 to 7 p.m., starting May 2 to Oct. 24.

Mid-county, CalvertHealth Medical Center in Prince Frederick is the site of a county farmers market open seasonally from April 30 to Nov. 19 every Tuesday, 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Sneade’s Ace Home Center in Lusby is the site of the county’s farmers market every Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon from May 4 to Sept. 7.

North Beach Farmers Market is held every Friday, 6 — 9 p.m. at 5th Street and Bay Avenue, 7th Street and Bay Avenue

The markets offer bedding plants (vegetables, herbs and flowers), hanging baskets, salad greens, asparagus, kale and strawberries. Selection will very per season.

The county’s agricultural website provides resources for locating local products by type, and more.

Twitter: @CalRecTAMARA

Twitter: @CalRecTAMARA