Carroll farmers make appearance in documentary highlighting Maryland farms and food

, Carroll County Times" >
Submitted photos Courtesy of Houplah Al Spoler at Waverly Market
Submitted photos Courtesy of Houplah Al Spoler at Waverly Market (Submitted photo Three Carroll farmers will be featured in "The Maryland Harvest" on Maryland Public Television April 17., Carroll County Times)

Three Carroll farmers are featured in the documentary "The Maryland Harvest" that is set to debut April 17 during Maryland Public Television's annual Chesapeake Bay Week.

The hour-long program was produced by Baltimore company Houpla, Inc. and follows the four seasons of food production in Maryland, highlighting several chef-farmer partnerships and the Buy Local/Eat Local movements.

The documentary is hosted by Al Spoler, who is the creator and co-host of Cellar Notes and Radio Kitchen on WYPR. He also recently produced and hosted MPT's "Chesapeake Wine Country" and "Brewed on the Bay: The Craft Beers of Maryland."

Dave Hochheimer of Black Rock Orchard in Lineboro said he knew Spoler from some of the farmers markets he sells at in Baltimore, and he was also recommended for the documentary by Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore. Woodberry Kitchen is known for its use of local ingredients in its dishes, and Black Rock Orchard is often a supplier of the fruits used by the restaurant.

Hochheimer said it is great to have that kind of partnership with restaurants like Woodberry Kitchen, and to know that the fruit he puts so much work into is being appreciated.

"It's a good feeling for us to know that people are eating fresh and local," he said, and he hopes that the documentary will bring some more publicity to the farmers markets to encourage more consumers to make a conscious effort to buy local food.

The last five years he has already noticed a strong growth in the number of shoppers at farmers markets, he said, even with the recession.

"We see a lot of repeat customers that come back week after week," he said, and it's great to develop those relationships with the customers.

Bryan Kerney of Truck Patch Farms in New Windsor was also interviewed in the film, highlighted for the heritage breeds of pork that he raises.

Kerney had previously worked with computers, according to the film, and when he got into farming, he started with produce before getting into livestock as well. He now raises pigs, beef cattle and poultry, and was praised in the film by Gjerde for his excellent quality of pork.

"It's rewarding seeing something actually work that you do when you start it from scratch," Kerney said of his new profession in the film.

Cinda Sebastian of Gardener's Gourmet in Westminster was interviewed in the documentary about the lettuces she grows. Sebastian discussed the methods she uses to grow her produce as naturally as possible to avoid the use of pesticides.

Brooke McDonald, executive producer of "The Maryland Harvest," said the farms that were highlighted in the film were actually discovered through interviews with the chefs.

"We were really intrigued by the way that chefs and farmers are working together these days, so what we did ... was talk with the chefs about the farmers that they love," McDonald said.

Once she interviewed the farmers, it was exciting to hear their personal stories and about their excitement over connecting with their customers, she said, to the point that they receive emails from dedicated shoppers telling them they can't wait for the spring season to begin so they can start buying their local produce again.

"I think these days we get so frustrated with this constant noise around us instead of really celebrating things that are great in life today, and one of those things is just the joy of eating really good food," she said.

The film will debut on MPT at 9 p.m. April 17, but McDonald said she's hoping that won't be the last airing of it.

"We're hoping to take this documentary into the school system with a curriculum that we would develop with the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation," she said, to educate youths about where their food comes from.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun