Local restaurateur Ned Atwater was featured in an episode of the "Maryland Farm & Harvest" television program.
Local restaurateur Ned Atwater was featured in an episode of the "Maryland Farm & Harvest" television program. (Courtesy Photo/Maryland Public Television)

Could eating a decadent, fudge brownie not only help satisfy a craving, but also help support local farmers? If it’s from Atwater’s, the answer is yes. The popular café at The Shops at Kenilworth (and five other locations) is renowned for soups, sandwiches, salads and baked treats. Owner Ned Atwater is devoted to supporting local farmers and hopes that you, too, take time to consider the source of the ingredients at your favorite eateries.

Just glance at the product descriptions on the Atwater’s menus, and you’ll find evidence of the relationship with the agriculture industry around us, including Evermore Farms, Plain View Farms, Plainville Farms, Trickling Springs Farms, One Straw Farm, Three Springs Fruit Farm, Baltimore Orchard Project, Black Rock Orchard, and others. You’ll also see reference to The Big Kitchen Farm — the urban farm owned by Atwater’s that was started in 2016 to further enhance the provision of fresh, wholesome food to Baltimore.

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The Atwater’s commitment to locally sourced ingredients was recently documented on television. On Jan.15, Atwater’s was featured in an episode of Maryland Public Television’s original series, “Maryland Farm & Harvest,” to showcase how they make use of fresh local ingredients in their menu offerings and fulfill a “farm to fork” promise.

According to series producer/director Sarah Sampson, segment producer Harpreet Kaur follows the journey of Maryland wheat from the field to Nagel Farm Service in Wye Mills (one of the state’s grain elevators), and then on to the Atwater’s restaurants. Ned Atwater explains to viewers why the soft red winter wheat raised in Maryland is key to making his delicious desserts.

“One of our mission statements from the beginning has been to support our community of farmers and producers. For almost 20 years, we have striven to fulfill this mission everyday,” says Angie Law, retail operations manager at Atwater's. “Our menu reflects our relationship with many of these farms. From the breakfast sausage from Evermore Farms, the milk from Trickling Springs in our lattes, and Liberty Delight Farms beef in our new shepherd’s pie. Not only are these farms local, they make great delicious products. And we’re excited to share them with our customers.”

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In the midst of the worst global refugee crisis in history, Atwater's, the local restaurant group, has been putting refugees to work baking cookies and making soup. Working with the International Rescue Committee in Baltimore, Atwater's has provided jobs for 11 refugees.

The agriculture industry creates more than $17 billion in revenue annually in Maryland. The state currently has some 12,200 farms — 84 percent of them family-owned — and nearly 6,000 full-time farmers. These farms account for more than 2 million acres, which translates into 40 percent of Maryland’s land being used for agriculture. Approximately 350,000 Marylanders are employed in some aspect of agriculture. Now in its sixth season, the popular “Maryland Farm & Harvest” television series (mpt.org/farm) examines many aspects of this critical local industry.

If you missed the original airing of the “Maryland Farm & Harvest” episode featuring Atwater’s, you can still catch it online at video.mpt.tv/video/episode-610-63hzds/. To learn more about Atwater’s restaurants and menu offerings, go to www.atwatersfood.com.

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