Breakfast, touted as the most important meal of the day, would surely not exist as we know it without the farmers who raise the hogs for sausage, grow the wheat for biscuits and milk the cows for butter. In fact, unless someone is particularly old-school and finds themselves exclusively hunting and gathering for sustenance, they certainly rely on farmers for most ingredients to all their meals.
Nowhere was this condition of modern human life more apparent than at the third annual Farm to Table Breakfast hosted by the Calvert County Farm Bureau on Saturday morning at the Calvert County Fairgrounds.
“The idea is that we bring the community together and that stimulates the awareness that we all need agriculture,” said Susan Cox of Spider Hall Farm in Prince Frederick. “We highlight the local opportunities. This is a beautiful way of sharing with the community the importance of agriculture.”
Cox greeted breakfast-goers at the entrance in character as Mrs. Moo, a persona she said she created to teach children about agriculture. She sported a Holstein-patterned vest and was quick to point out local ingredients used in the event’s breakfast.
Just about everything is sourced from Maryland or from states that border Maryland, according to Cox, with meat for the sausages coming from Calvert County, maple syrup coming from Western Maryland and butter coming from Pennsylvania.
The breakfast was served as a buffet, attendees exchanging their tickets for a plate and going down the line for scrambled eggs, potatoes, ham, sausage, biscuits, gravy and last, but certainly not least, waffles.
Becky Jones, a 4-H member and freshman studying agricultural business management at the University of Maryland, was stationed at the head of the buffet taking tickets.
“It’s amazing to see so many people from the community,” Jones said. “We’re all gathered as one.”
Jones is from Windy Willow Farm, which supplied sage and maple sausage for the event. She said events like the Farm to Table Breakfast show that agriculture is a viable and living industry.
One doesn’t have to go far to find more young people looking to a future in the field. Lexy Stonestreet, 18, said she plans to study the business of agriculture so she can expand the family farm.
“Kids my age are still passionate about agriculture,” Stonestreet said, and with the title of Miss Calvert County Farm Bureau 2016, she has the credentials to prove it. “It’s family, it’s generations. It’s not a job — it’s what I love to do.”
Luckily for young people with dreams like Stonestreet’s, funds from tickets to the Farm to Table Breakfast go toward furthering agricultural education.
“Last year we gave out five $1,000 scholarships so we’re trying to at least match that again this year,” Calvert County Farm Bureau President Jason Leavitt said.
According to Leavitt, the Farm to Table Breakfast is the farm bureau’s biggest fundraising event, with nearly 400 tickets sold last year and a similar turnout this year. With sponsors paying for most of the supplies and food, the money raised through ticket sales can go directly toward scholarships and agricultural leadership training.
Young Calvert residents have several organizations they can get involved with to learn about agriculture, including 4-H, Future Farmers of America and the farm bureau’s own group, Calvert County Young Farmers.
Cathy Cosgrove of Horsmon Farms said one thing tomorrow’s farmers, and today’s, need to grapple with is discovering their niche.
“You can’t have every farmer in the county in the same niche, so there’s constant diversification and finding out what works for each person on their land,” Cosgrove said.
Right now she says there’s an enormous demand for buying local and knowing where people’s food comes from.
It certainly appears that Calvert County farmers are searching for and finding their niches, from raising meat such as Battle Creek Beef, growing corn and soybeans like Goose Creek Farm or being one of a handful of farms left in Southern Maryland that still grows tobacco like Spider Hall Farm.
“There’s all this opportunity still left for agriculture in the county,” Catherine Hamilton of Spider Hall said. “If we can get out and do more events like this and educate people on agriculture and how important it is in their lives, I think it’s a bright future.”