In 2015 a team from Western Maryland was awarded a grant from the Town Creek Foundation to form the Western Maryland Food Council. This project is an effort to develop the local food system in Western Maryland, and it follows on several years of work by people in Garrett County, University of Maryland Extension, Garrett County Economic Development, Frostburg Grows, Frostburg State University, Western Maryland Resource Conservation and Development Council, and others. Town Creek Foundation (TCF) supports the development of food councils in Maryland to help achieve their goals of systemic change for sustainability, improved quality of the Chesapeake Bay, and efforts to address climate change. TCF supports sustainable agriculture and local food as a means to contribute in positive ways to all of these goals.
The Western Maryland Food Council Mission: to bring together diverse stakeholders to integrate the aspects of the food system to sustain and enhance the environmental, economic, social and nutritional health of Western Maryland.
- Increase local food production and the number of growers
- Develop markets and distribution channels for local food
- Provide a clearinghouse for information and help coordinate efforts by networking
- Address food policy and help inform food policy via the statewide network of all food councils
- Address hunger and help improve food security and affordability
- Promote sustainable agriculture and permaculture
- Education – values, culture, mindset
Western Maryland Food Council Food Assessment:
From our partnership and related efforts over recent years, including initial work on a community food assessment done at FSU (Russo and students 2009), we know much about the needs, assets, capacities, potential and challenges in Western MD. In food assessment, we have built upon this knowledge and identified the gaps in our local food system in an effort to develop goals for strategic next steps.
- Evaluate current food production in the Western Maryland three county area of focus as defined by Garrett county, Allegany county, and Washington county.
- Draw from the data collected to identify challenges and assets of food system within the areas of land use, economic development, community health, and environment.