“Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: “Love. They must do it for love.” Farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable. They love to live where they work and to work where they live. If the scale of their farming is small enough, they like to work in the company of their children and with the help of their children. They love the measure of independence that farm life can still provide. I have an idea that a lot of farmers have gone to a lot of trouble merely to be self-employed to live at least a part of their lives without a boss.”
― Wendell Berry

It takes something to meet the eloquence of Wendell Berry when he is talking about farming and farmers. But I think this new Southern Maryland Meats website, graced by the excellent photography of Lena McBean of Edwin Remsberg Photography, goes a long way to capturing the special nature of Southern Maryland and the people that work its land and raise its livestock. Lena and I visited almost every SMM farm in the last few months. You showed us what makes you smile in the morning, and what makes your farm, and your products, special. Your faces revealed it all.

Welcome to the new Southern Maryland Meats (SMM) website, and my new blog, Craig’s Corner. In this blog, I will keep you informed, challenged and, at times, amused. I will discuss the status of many of our SMM projects, how things that are happening in wider markets may affect and influence our businesses here, insert some humorous anecdotes, add up-to-date news for our customers, and offer creative recipes on how to cook to perfection the excellent meats our area raises.

As many of you know, for over 15 years, I was owner and chef of the first locally-sourcing restaurant in the greater Annapolis area. I cooked, catered, taught cooking classes, managed to order from over 30 local farms, hosted a CSA and offered take-home meals. Staying true to my heart, cooking seasonally and supporting local businesses, I came up with as many ways as I could think of to add value to my services and give my customers multiple options in buying my products. I know as well as anyone that one must be creative, alert, and take chances to make a small business thrive. I know it’s just not enough to make the greatest product in the world. You have to connect with your customers as well.

This website will be one of those connections. My mission for SMM is to support the local meat community in every way possible. That is a twofold project: create the infrastructure to support our livestock farmers locally with meat processing, and to enhance our markets with the ability to distribute our products widely.

I proudly note that this new website is a collaborative effort by my inestimable colleagues here at SMADC (Shelby Watson Hampton, Cia Morey, Karyn Owens, Jean Burke, and my brilliant partner, Susan McQuilkin), the media talent of Jamie Tiralla of All Ag Media and, again, the outstanding photography of Lena McBean of Edwin Remsberg Photography. It has been a joy to work with them.

So please take the time to peruse the website. There is a lot of information here for both consumers and farmers. Feel free to make comments and suggest improvements or topics. (Compliments are also welcome.)

As it is said, “Watch this space.” There is a whole lot more coming.

Next blog: When Can We Expect Local Meat Processing?

— Craig Sewell, Marketing and Livestock Specialist

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