St. Michaels Farmers Market Poised for New Era

After more than six months of planning, the St. Michaels Farmers Market is becoming its own self-governing organization and is pleased to introduce its first Board of Directors.

Earlier this year, the future of the local, producer-only Market was in question since its D.C.-based, parent organization had announced they would no longer provide the necessary administrative, marketing or financial support after the 2017 season. In a quandary, the Market’s volunteer leadership hosted a meeting in February to inform the community of the dilemma and ask for help. More than 100 people turned out to offer suggestions and show their support for the Market. In the end, a dozen people came together to form an “Action Team” that would tackle the challenge of how to ensure the Market’s future. After six months of discussions, planning and exploring a variety of options, it became clear that the time had come for the Market to become its own entity, run by a local board of directors.

“It was wonderful to see these 12 people, most of whom didn’t know each other at all, come together as a team to find a way to support the Market,” says Randy Royer, action-team-member-turned Market Board President. “We agreed on what we loved most, then looked into many options for filling the critical administrative role –forming our own entity and finding a new local umbrella organization. In the end, the option just made the most sense since our mission is locally-focused.”

The new St. Michaels Farmers Market Board reflects the interests in the community and has an eye toward future programs and partnerships that were identified by the Action Team discussions. Board Members are: Randy Royer, co-owner of Blue Heron Coffee Roasters in St. Michaels; Rosemary Fasolo, owner of Pixel Print & Post in St. Michaels; Joseph Coale who has a private law practice in St. Michaels; Bob Benson of Bozman who was in the financial services industry; Jena Paice, current Market farmer, owner and grower at Spirit Grower; and Niamh Shortt, Delmarva Program Manager for Future Harvest.

Collectively, their diverse experience, knowledge and skills will ensure that the St. Michaels Farmers Market continues to be a producer-only market that serves as a community gathering place for residents and visitors, while also providing economic opportunities for farmers and food producers, offering local food education and giving everyone access to healthy, fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs and other products.

“We are absolutely committed to keeping the many vibrant, rich aspects of the Market that many of us have enjoyed and supported for years,” says Royer. “Our Action Team explorations really helped us understand more about our community’s food-related needs and gave us lots of new ideas for increasing everyone’s access to our farmers, like hopefully accepting SNAP benefits next year. Those conversations also opened the doors for new partnership and program possibilities. I think I can safely say that the new Board is really excited to be part of the Market’s evolution. We are committed to opening in April 2018, offering locally sourced products and a unique community gathering place each Saturday.”

Celebrate the Season at Outstanding Dreams Farm’s Holiday Open House

Outstanding Dreams Alpaca Farm, located at 24480 Pinetown Road in Preston, invites you to their Holiday Open House on Saturday, November 25th from 10am – 5pm. Tour the farm, enjoy seasonal refreshments, meet and learn about their herd of alpacas, and shop for unique holiday gifts crafted from soft and luxurious alpaca fiber. This year’s Holiday Open House will coincide with Small Business Saturday, a nation-wide event that celebrates small businesses and encourages shoppers to support the small businesses in their community.

Now in its tenth year, Outstanding Dreams Farm is home to more than 25 Huacaya alpacas and a Farm Store that carries a variety of products ranging from handcrafted clothing, hats, scarves and gloves to children’s toys, jewelry and raw fiber. Situated on fifteen serene and peaceful acres on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the farm was founded in 2007 by Phil and Vickie Liske and has grown to be one of the top agri-tourism destinations in the region.

The Liskes are constantly adding new and unique offerings, such as their new line of Maryland-made products in the Farm Store. One of these products is their premium yarn, which is made from the farm’s alpacas and is available in many colors and weights. Another one-of-a-kind gift offering is the Adopt-an-Alpaca program, where you can “adopt” the alpaca of your choice for one year. The “adopted” alpaca stays on the farm where the Liskes take care of it, and the recipient receives a package that includes a Certificate of Adoption, a photo, a voucher for a farm tour to come learn about their alpaca and a $20 gift certificate to the Farm Store.

“One of our favorite parts of our job is sharing our love and knowledge of alpacas with our friends, community and visitors from near and far,” says Liske. “Our Holiday Open House is a great way for folks to come out, learn about these lovable animals, meet our newest arrivals and see what’s new on the farm.”

In addition to offering Champion alpaca breeding services and sales, the Liskes frequently offer farm tours for groups of all sizes. This past year, the farm has hosted numerous tours for a variety of audiences, including car and motorcycle clubs, artist groups, college students, senior centers, bus companies and children.

For more information on the Open House & Alpaca Festival or to arrange a tour of the farm, please contact (410) 673-2002 or visit OutstandingDreamsFarm.com.

Mid-Shore Food: Finding the Balance between a Restaurant and the Family Kitchen Table

Bill Lynch might be one of the few chefs in America that works in the home kitchen of approximately 180 people every day. While it is true that Bill doesn’t get in his car to visit each one, the metaphor works in describing what it is like to direct the food service at the Londonderry on the Tred Avon community just off Port Street in Easton.

And that is where the challenge begins for Bill as he and his crew as they navigate the expectations of sophisticated residents with significant international culinary experiences but who also seek out simpler food options for their day to day meals.

That’s not an easy task for any chef, but with Bill’s own culinary background, starting with learning to cook from his Italian grandmother in Philly, to progressing through the hierarchy of professional kitchens, including some of the best in the Mid-Atlantic region, he has found himself very much at home himself is the new and satisfying change from what a traditional restaurant faces daily.

A few weeks ago, the Spy sat down with Bill to talk about this unique balancing act.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Londonderry on the Tred Avon please go here

Sunflowers & Greens Wins Oyster Stew Competition

Sunflowers & Greens Chef Harley Peet has been named the first place winner in the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s oyster stew competition, held annually during OysterFest.

Sunflowers & Greens of Easton, Md. earns bragging rights and a plaque recognizing the People’s Choice award. Votes were taken during blind tastings of the different stews at CBMM’s October 28 OysterFest, with Sunflowers & Greens served as stew ‘B’.  The stew will be served at Sunflowers & Greens and its sister restaurant, Bas Rouge, in Easton.

Five restaurants competed, with 500 festival-goers taking part in blind taste tests before voting by ballot for their favorite stew. T at the General Store of Royal Oak, Md. was served as stew ‘A’ in the tastings, which placed second with chef Hugo Ruesgas, with third place going to stew ‘D’ from Bistro St. Michaels’ chef Doug Stewart. Other participants included Billie’s Catering of Crisfield, Md. (stew ‘C’), and Gourmet by the Bay of St. Michaels, Md. (stew ‘E’).  More information about the event is at cbmm.org/oysterfest.

Hoopers Island Oyster Co. Launches Seasonal Retail Operation

Hoopers Island Oyster Co., a Dorchester County aquaculture business, has opened a pop-up store for the holidays in Cambridge during the months of November and December. It is the first time the company is offering oysters by the dozen and in shucked pints direct to consumers. Shucked oysters are also available in a one-gallon limited edition “Heritage Tin” modeled after the oyster cans used in the 19th and 20th centuries and popular with antique collectors today.

“Since founding Hoopers Island in 2010, we’ve had numerous people ask us where they could purchase both live and shucked oysters,” said Ricky Fitzhugh, Managing Partner. “We know that many people enjoy preparing and serving oysters for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. The recent opening of our Cambridge sales and manufacturing facility provided the perfect opportunity to make our premium oysters available to local residents.”

The limited edition heritage tin, which contains two pints of Chesapeake Gold oysters, is designed by Cambridge graphic artist Jill Jasuta and features the work of Dorchester artist Michael Rosato.

Hoopers Island Founding Partner Johnny Shockley believes the oyster tin will be a popular hostess gift and holiday present with Eastern Shore residents and visitors.

“We’re proud to celebrate Maryland’s heritage of oystering and canning with this beautiful commemorative tin,” he said.  “As we work to revive Dorchester County’s seafood industry and return oysters and jobs to the Chesapeake Bay, we hope consumers will enjoy our oysters on the half shell, fried and in traditional recipes for stew and stuffing.”

Hoopers Island oysters, shucked pints and heritage tins will also be sold in Baltimore at Chef Spike Gjerde’s Parts and Labor Butchery in Remington.

Due to limited availability, orders for the oysters and heritage tins must be placed in advance and picked up at Hoopers Island’s Cambridge facility located off of Route 16 at 837 Chesapeake Drive (Unit B) or in Baltimore at Parts & Labor, 2600 N. Howard Street in Baltimore.

To place an order, call 410-397-3664 or email afitzhugh@hoopersisland.com.