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Local Poultry Industry in National Rankings

According to Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. (DPI), Maryland produced 305,200,000 meat chickens in 2013. Maryland is ranked 8th among the states for the number of meat chickens produced. The economic impact of animal agriculture on the Eastern Shore is very high. Bill Satterfield, executive director of DPI said, “A 2012 economic impact study for the chicken industry on Maryland’s Eastern Shore shows there were more than 15,000 direct chicken industry jobs (chicken company employees and the farm families that grow the chickens) with annual wages and benefits exceeding $636 million. The total direct economic activity was estimated to be in excess of $4.5 billion per year. That is a huge amount of money in a small area like the Eastern Shore and absolutely essential for the region’s economy.” According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture,these Maryland counties were ranked among the leaders in broiler chicken production nationally: Dorchester #82, Somerset #18, Caroline #20, Wicomico #28, Worcester #29, Queen Anne’s #124, Talbot #235. The data showed there were 79 chicken farms in Dorchester County, and they produced about 10% of Maryland’s meat chickens. Dorchester County is home to Amick Farms which ranked #14 nationally in a 2013 study based upon average …

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Innovation Bolsters Aquaculture Industry

Built on ingenuity and entrepreneurism, Hoopers Island Oyster Aquaculture Company was branded Chesapeake Gold Oysters in 2010. Co-owners Johnny Shockley and Ricky Fitzhugh pioneered the innovative aquaculture movement in Dorchester County using the latest technologies. Supported by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Rural Development Loan, Eastern Shore Entrepreneurial Center, Dorchester County Economic Development, and their own resources, the partners renovated an old wholesale fish market, purchased equipment and began raising oysters on their newly leased grounds. It was once a thriving industry that provided livelihoods for many families on the bay but overharvesting, pollution and disease caused population declines. “We’re developing a company that will provide the infrastructure to support a new approach of producing oysters on the Chesapeake,” said Shockley. Always pushing the innovative edge, Shockley and Fitzhugh designed a system that could easily transition traditional oystering methods used by generations of watermen on the Chesapeake Bay to more efficient methods. Their oysters are grown in cages on the bottom of the bay and then cleaned throughout maturation. They are salted to desired levels at a shore facility to make up for the bay’s inconsistent salinity. Chesapeake Gold hosts tours of their facility and share their ingenuity with …

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Cambridge Farmers’ Market Attracts Over 20 Vendors

Looking to buy locally grown food, visit the Cambridge Main Street Farmers’ Market! Serving the local economy by facilitating start-ups and furthering existing business expansions, the farmers’ market is a great place for the community to reconnect with local farmers and small businesses. Market Manager Allison Penn said, “This year we have over 20 vendors with a variety of products from traditional fruit and vegetable produce to plants, meat, crabs, wine, baked goods, honey, soaps, cremes, baskets, wooden crafts and jewelry.” The market attracts many visitors each season that small- to medium-sized farming businesses would have trouble gaining access to without the venue. The market began in year 2000 and has expanded from the grounds at Sailwinds to its current location at Long Wharf. Strong community partnerships, good management and community support are part of the “local food for local people” experience when visiting the market. The Cambridge Main Street Farmers’ Market is held every Thursday from 3-6 PM through October 16. For more information, visit their website at www.cambridgemainstreet.com, by email at cambridgemktmgr@aol.com, or follow them on Facebook.

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Dorchester Winery Exceeds Production Goals

In effort to diversify the family agronomic operation, Joe and Laura Layton, their son William – a third generation farmer – and his wife Jennifer chose to start a vineyard. Less than five years since uncorking that first bottle of Layton’s Chance wine, the business continues to thrive, exceeding production and distribution goals in 2013. More than ‘value-added’ agriculture, Layton’s – like many wineries throughout the country – has become a thriving destination for tourists and residents alike. At least 30,000 people have visited the Vienna operation to purchase wine, tour the vineyards or attend one of their many festivals and special events. Layton’s Chance Vineyard and Winery is the first farm in Dorchester County to expand into a winery. They offer a nature trail, picnic area with outdoor games, happy hours on Friday nights and a summer concert series. The winery also features an event room for rental. Co-owner Jennifer Layton added, “Dorchester County is a great place to have a business, especially a family business. Everyone is so friendly and they appreciate the wonderful quality of life. There is so much to do in Dorchester; it makes for great conversation when guests visit the winery!” The family’s farming …

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Business Continues to Thrive for Local Food Processor

Originally located in Manhattan, B&G Foods began in 1889 as two immigrant families working together to sell products made from fresh vegetables and other natural ingredients. Eventually growing out of their New York facility, they relocated to Dorchester County in 1983 to a 200,000-square-foot manufacturing plant that provided room for growth. Carrying their own B&G food lines as well as many others including Ortega, Emeril’s, Polaner, Wrights, Trappey’s, Las Palmas, etc., the business continues to thrive. B&G uses locally grown peppers and cucumbers for their condiment lines. Plant Manager Mike Toadvine said, “Business is going well and we look forward to the future in Dorchester County.” B&G Foods employs approximately 100 full-time people and 60 temporary throughout the year.  They hire an additional 100 temporary employees during the peak summer months.  Manufacturing has been the very fabric of Dorchester County’s history. For over thirty years, B&G Foods has been part of a county-wide food processing cluster that has begun to capitalize on the integration of science, technology, research and innovation. For further information on B&G Foods, please visit www.bgpickles.com.

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Local Seafood Business Uses Facebook to Reach Thousands

Lindy’s Seafood, a family owned and operated business located in Woolford, MD, offers crabs, shrimp, oysters and more. In business for 40 years, Lindy’s Seafood seasonally employs 50 people. Staying current with marketing and advertising trends, Lindy’s Seafood started a Facebook page promoting contests furthering their advertising reach within the county and state. Aubrey Vincent, daughter of owner Terry Vincent, is currently promoting a contest giving away one bushel of number one male crabs to a lucky person who “Likes” their page and shares their status on Facebook. The winners will be chosen on April 18. Over 175,000 people have seen the post, and the numbers continue to rise. When asked what she loves about Dorchester County, Vincent replied, “Tradition- I feel privileged to continue the tradition of working on the water in Dorchester County.” For more information on Lindy’s Seafood please call 410.228.5032, visit www.lindysseafoodmd.com or email aubrey@lindysseafood.com.

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Dorchester County’s Alternative Agriculture Ranch

Located in Hurlock, MD, SB Farms features Dorchester County’s only bison farm. Operated by the Edwards family, SB Farms includes a healthy heard of bison raised in a clean environment. The alternative agriculture ranch began in 1995 and continues to thrive. Selling directly to the community, as well as the farmer’s market and local restaurants, bison is readily available in Dorchester County. “We raise America’s first red meat,” said Bill Edwards. “Our bison are raised without the use of antibiotics, growth stimulants or hormones.” Offering a healthy alternative to other red meats, bison is very lean and should be cooked at lower temperatures for optimal taste. Edwards explained bison is truly native to the United States, and the other popular red meats were introduced during colonization. The ranch uses best management practices to keep the bison healthy and our waterways clean. The Edwards served on the Chesapeake Bay’s Choptank Tributary Strategies Team and planted native warm-seasonal grasses in their pastures as an added way to ensure best practices. Tours are available with appointments for parties of 10 people or more and priced at $10 per person. Tours feature the bison up close in their own habitats and last approximately an hour. …

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Emily’s Produce Featured Nationally

During the off season, Emily’s Produce owners Paul and Kelly Jackson spend a week traveling to different agricultural sites attending seminars through the North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association (NAFDMA). The Jacksons were surprised to see their family farm featured at the convention in Kansas City, Mo, along with two other family farms from other states. Kelly Jackson said, “Each year, we look forward to the vast amount of ideas and opportunities that are available through our educational and networking partnerships during our off season. This year, our travel to the Mid-West gave us much insight into creative ways to continue operating our family farm in a way that creates local agriculture awareness and brings much satisfaction to visitors for years to come. We came back with some new and improved ideas that will be exciting to this season’s visitors!” Emily’s Produce also offers a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Depending upon the program selected, Emily’s will provide weekly shares of fruits and vegetables straight from their fields to members. There are three different options for CSA shares to accommodate individual needs. Kelly Jackson added, “It’s a great partnership that empowers local families and local farmers to work directly together in …

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Recycling One Oyster Shell At A Time

The Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) is a nonprofit dedicated to “Bringing back the Chesapeake Bay one oyster at a time.” The ORP implements several programs and projects around the bay to further its restoration efforts. The Shell Recycle Alliance (SRA), one of ORP’s programs, has hundreds of restaurants, caterers and seafood wholesalers helping restore the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster habitat by recycling their used shells. “Oyster shells are an extremely limited natural resource that we must recycle as new oysters prefer to attach and grow onto other oyster shells,” said Stephan Abel, executive director of the Oyster Recovery Partnership. “We are grateful to Dorchester County for recognizing the critical need for oyster shells as part of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration efforts by providing additional public drop-off sites that will ultimately help us achieve restoration goals.” With the addition of new sites added last year, Dorchester County offers four drop off locations at the Beulah Landfill, Secretary Transfer Station, Golden Hill Transfer Station, and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science at Horn Point. Businesses and individuals who become a member of the Shell Recycling Alliance are eligible to receive a Maryland tax credit for recycling shells. Learn more by …

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Water Moves Us to Savor Sweet Success

Long-time agricultural leaders in Delmarva, Dorchester’s farms produce numerous crops including corn, soybean and melons. The Layton family added a new crop in 2007 when they planned and propagated grapevines on their Vienna-based farm to create the county’s first winery. Adding this new crop to their farm produced delicious wines and created an ‘agri-tourism’ business with festivals, concerts, and private events in the beautiful tasting room. The family-friendly destination attracts tens of thousands of people each year. Visit www.laytonschance.com to learn more about Layton’s Chance Vineyard and Winery.

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