MDA unveils film on farmers and the chefs who love them
By MICHEL ELBEN
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — From autumn’s apples to summer’s seafood, the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s new documentary “The Maryland Harvest” showcases farmers, chefs, and the partnerships that create Maryland’s Eat Local cuisine.
MDA debuted a 20-minute taste of the documentary on April 3 at its headquarters. The piece premieres on Maryland Public Television on April 17 at 9 p.m.
“The hottest thing out there is eating local,” said Al Spoler, radio personality and host of “The Maryland Harvest.”
“We hope that as many people as possible will see this documentary and gain a better understanding of where their food actually comes from,” said Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance.
“The Maryland Harvest” takes MPT viewers on an eat local cuisine tour of farms throughout the state.
The documentary provides a novel approach on how farmers provide consumers with fresh, local food throughout the year, said Spoler.
“We wanted to explain the inter-relationships within our local food systems,” said Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore.
Gjerde said he sources from local producers because he wants to “get money back into local agricultural economy.”
The program is broken up by growing season and enhanced by the striking colors of Maryland’s seasonal produce and greenery.
“Viewers beware: Don’t watch this program hungry,” said Houpla Inc.’s Brooke McDonald, executive producer of the film.
In the film, Spoler chats with chefs about their menus and taste tests the best of the eat local movement.
“It used to be if you grow it, they will buy it,” said Gjerde. “Now if we buy it, it will get grown.”
Spoler travels to the Tilghman Island Inn in Tilghman, Md., to talk to chef David McCallum and learn how to make a twist on a Greek salad with fresh strawberries.
“It’s spring time on a plate,” he said.
While there, Spoler also learns about the local berry market and seafood industry. He discovers that both have a narrow local window. McCallum plans his spring menu around neighboring farmer Lisa Jones-Raymond of Dogwood Farm. She, and others, talk with Spoler about best management practices.
“Attention to quality and detail is paramount,” said Russ Shlagel of Shagel Farms in Charles County, who has strawberries featured in the film. “Your day doesn’t stop.”
“We tried to capture the richness of Maryland’s harvest,” said Spoler, who said he worked to promote “Maryland farmers and the chefs who love them.”
Godfrey’s Farm was one of the farms loved by Maryland chefs.
Tom and Lisa Godfrey of Sudlersville, Md., have their asparagus featured in a dish prepared by chef Cindy Wolf at the Charleston restaurant in Baltimore, Md.
Spoler visits both Wolf and the Godfreys to talk about their partnership.
At the Charleston, the Godfreys’ name is written on the menu next to the dish in which their produce is featured.
“That helps a lot,” said Lisa Godfrey.
Godfrey said the customers would often see their name on the menu and come out to the farm on the weekends.
“They want their kids to experience the farm,” she said.