Five years ago, the Mid-Shore Regional Council joined with the USDA to leverage the area’s reputation for great produce and seafood and capitalize on the “Buy Local” movement sweeping the country. The result was Shore Gourmet, a 501(c)6 formed in 2009 to help farmers and food producers develop, distribute and market their goods to retailers and restaurants.
With two-dozen purveyors and producers now participating in the program, and two more scheduled to come aboard, Shore Gourmet is now looking to target high demand products and incentivize processes to strengthen the region’s food production capacity.
According to Kevin Deighan, who became the program’s director in September 2010, their top selling product is Dorchester’s S.B. Farm’s bison followed by Chapel Hill Creamery. “In addition to needing more local bison and cheese, one of our biggest needs is for food processing companies that can work with our farmers and purveyors,” Diegan said, adding, “We need to ramp up the infrastructure – businesses on the shore who can process, cold pack or package the Shore Gourmet goods.” Deighan is working with an upper shore farmer to start a second bison ranch.
In addition to Hurlock’s S.B. Bison Farms, the line features another Dorchester purveyor. Paul’s Pride, a Churchville based crab and seafood processor. Hot Spot Cool Eats, the popular Route 50 gourmet hot dog stand, is the county’s sole retail outlet.
The MSRC continually looks for producers and purveyors to add to Shore Gourmet’s lineup. If you have an Eastern Shore specialty product or would like help getting your gourmet offering off the ground, contact Kevin at Kevin@midshore.org.