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Can I fall back now? And farmer stories you don’t want to miss!

Just in case it snows this winter, Washington is on a dead sprint to get all its events and restaurant openings and panel discussions out of the way Right. Now. Food Day and James Beard Foundation and Stone Barns all planned their big educational events for the this month, and a million others have been woven in between.

On my docket was the Chefs as Catalysts for Change event I moderated last week as part of Food Day, the Smithsonian’s kick-off panel discussions to its first Food History Weekend and The Atlantic‘s Food Summit series this morning — at which I tweeted vigorously. In between, there were the events that skewed more food and drink than think (though still plenty of that) with Smithsonian Associates’ Mind of a Food Critic evening (which I wrote about here) and the annual Chef’s Roast of Top Chef‘s Tom Colicchio (which I also wrote about here). I may or may not have shamelessly had my photo taken with Padma at the latter…

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It was great to get out and see so many of you on the food circuit this month! That said, I will be more than ready to set the clocks back on Sunday, even if that means welcoming dark at 4 p.m. Here’s to hoping my 1-year-old sets hers back, too!

All these festivities have kept me behind on sharing some HUGELY important stories about the next generation of farmers in our Chesapeake Bay region. What’s driving new people, young and old, to enter the field of farming, where they are so desperately needed to grow tomorrow’s food? What are their stories and how could they inspire more people to pursue farming as a first or second career?

I was honored to have another opportunity to tell the stories of new and beginning farmers, this time in Maryland, through an 8-part story series for Maryland FarmLink and the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Council. The council facilitated a mentor match program the past two years that connected new farmers to existing ones working in similar fields, and they wanted to make the stories of new farmers available to a broader audience.

These folks inspire me in untold ways. They are taking the leap from hobby to profession and are helping, in some small way, to bridge the gap between the demand for locally grown produce, chickens and even wine and the supply. I’m equally fascinated by their role in the redefinition of agriculture in Southern Maryland, where tobacco’s sudden collapse left gaping holes in the local economy and culture. Could local foodstuffs — and these innovative local people — help fill the gaps?

You can read the entire series, or just a few of the stories, here. The series is similar to one I wrote about Virginia farmers for the Piedmont Environmental Council. So there you go, 16 inspirational farmer stories to give you hope about our (local) future of food.

Between this and panel discussions aplenty, we should have plenty to chew on until next time.

Cheers,
W

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