Monday, July 25, 2011

Buy Local Challenge: Another Perspective

How are you doing on the Buy Local Challenge? There's so much good local food to enjoy at this time of year, that we bet you're really enjoying yourselves...I know we are!

We thought you might be interested in the Buy Local Challenge from an actual farmer's perspective. Eileen Shlagel shares her thoughts in this letter:

Dear Farm Friends,

We hope that you are having a safe and fun filled summer. We have been working hard on the farm to produce the safest and freshest fruits and vegetables possible and to offer them to our community in a variety of ways. We have continued our relationship with Giant and with Whole Foods, both of whom remain committed to the local food movement. We also travel to seven different Farmer’s Markets in the metro area, and see many of you there. If you haven’t been to any of our markets yet this summer please visit our website for times and locations.

We were invited to an expansion of an existing market this year in North Beach. What an awesome town! Their market is Friday evenings from 6-9. The main market is on 5th street, but we are on 7th street right in front of Sea Scapes Gift Shop, along with a local winery, a crab vendor and there will soon be a cheese and yogurt vendor. We are bay view and it’s just amazing to be able to sell our produce in such a beautiful location to such friendly people! Farmer Russ and I haven’t sold at a Farmer’s market together in over 20 years, but we have so much fun on Friday evenings it’s just like a date night!

All of us feel so blessed that we have such great customers at all of our Farmer’s Markets! In Rockville; our longest running market, the customers met our oldest son; Karl, as a little boy and now he’s 29 and taking his little girl with him. We feel very connected to our customers and we want you guys to feel connected to us. Everyone should know who is growing their food, how it’s grown and where it’s grown. When you go to your favorite grocery store ask the produce manager where the local produce is and where it was grown. When you go to a Farmer’s market you can do the same. Look for the So Md. / So Good branding, or Maryland’s Best. Ask questions.

Here at Shlagel Farms we feel it’s important to always be willing to redefine our agriculture practices as new research comes out and as we educate ourselves on different techniques. The spring crop of hydroponic, chemical free tomatoes, lettuce, and salad greens were a huge success. All of the time and energy that we put in to starting these crops in a clean environment really paid off. You guys let us know how much our efforts were worth. We plan to begin a fall crop in September.

The heat this summer has been a little daunting and calls for Farmer Russ to pull new tricks out of his bag. We use black plastic to cover crop rows to reduce the use of herbicides. When we lost the first planting of peppers the air temp was 95, however, the temperature at the hole where the stem of the plant comes through the plastic was 120 degrees. The stem was then incapable of transporting nutrients from the roots up through the stem to the plant leaves. So the latest crop of peppers got planted on plastic that had been painted white. We’ll let you know how that works!

It’s hard to believe that it’s July and we are already planting the crops that the fall frosts will take. Farmer Russ reminded me the other day that the last year that an early October frost killed the pepper crop was 9/11/01 Somehow it just didn’t seem too important that year.

The main reason that I am sending you guys this letter is to remind you of a very important summer event that kicks off on Saturday 7/23. It is an annual event conceived by The Southern Maryland Agriculture Development Commission in which they challenge everyone in the state to buy local, and every day for a week eat something you have purchased from a local producer. It can be produce, or wine, or cheese or seafood. You will keep your money in your local community, support a family farm, or small local business and you’ll be buying the freshest possible product.

The following is the notice that they have sent out. It's time to take the Buy Local Challenge!

Register now to take the Challenge, and then be sure to eat at least one thing from a local farm (local wines and spirits count too!) every day during Buy Local Week, July 23 - 31, 2011.

By the way, this year's Challenge features a new contest:

"Take the Buy Local Challenge to the Workplace!" You could win a catered lunch (and more!) for up to 20 people at your office. If you work in Maryland, find a creative way to take the challenge as a group, document it with a photograph and a description and upload your participation to the Buy Local Challenge Facebook page at or email to Be sure to sign up by July 24!

The Buy Local Challenge was conceived and launched in 2007 by the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) to highlight the benefits of buying local to Maryland's economy and environment.

Shlagel Farms wants to encourage all of you to Take the Challenge! Have a fresh and healthy week!

The Shlagel Family
12850 Shlagel Rd
Waldorf, Md 20601

Join your friends and neighbors, Eileen and our other local farmers this week and enjoy the very best fresh, beautiful food you can get in Maryland. We hope you'll accept the challenge!

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