First harvest festival expected to draw 5,000 Organizers hope to bring together consumers, farmers


The Future Harvest Festival this weekend is no ordinary county fair. You'll find food and games, but you also may learn how to cultivate worms and grow garlic, enter a piglet-calling contest or build a scarecrow.

Organizers of the first festival at the carroll County Agriculture Center in Westminster said they hope to bring together consumers, farmers and environmentalists from around Maryland for a fun and educational event. They expect about 5,000 people.

The festival is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday, rain or shine, and includes workshops, exhibits, demonstrations and activities for children.

A farmers' market is planned, but won't be as extensive as organizers had hoped because of the dry summer, said Marty Rice, a Middletown organic vegetable grower who is coordinating the festival.

The event is sponsored by the Future Harvest Project, a group formed one year ago by individuals and organizations dedicated to keeping farming profitable in Maryland and protecting the environment in the Chesapeake Bay region.

"Our hope is we can establish a communication between our urban and suburban residents and our farm residents," Ms. Rice said.

The event is designed to promote regional agricultural products and to help educate consumers about how they can support agriculture and protect the environment.

"We're trying to bring together environmental and agricultural interests in the bay region," said Michael Heller, director of the Future Harvest Project and an employee of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The W. K. Kellogg Foundation committed $1.25 million to the organization over a four-year period.

Some workshops are aimed at professional growers; others are geared toward consumers who want to learn more about "sustainable" gardening and living, Ms. Rice said. A "sustainable" practice is one that makes good use of available resources, organizers said. Recycling, composting and buying local produce are examples of such practices.

Among the workshops expected to be popular, Ms. Rice said, are:

* Vermiculture for Worm Lovers of All Ages. Montgomery County Cooperative Extension Service Agent Wanda MacLachlan will explain how to use worms to compost kitchen waste.

* Garlic growing. Tony Sarmiento and Janet Silva of Montgomery County are the Maryland State Fair Garlic Champions and will explain how to grow the bulbs.

Garlic is planted in the fall and harvested in June and July, Ms. Rice said.

"It's very well-suited to our climate," she said.

* Willing Workers on Organic Farms, a clearinghouse that matches people who want to work on farms with farmers. Jenny Siebenhaar and Bryan Hughes, both of Millersville, will talk about their experiences working on organic farms in Europe and opportunities available in the United States.

Children will have plenty to keep them busy at the festival, Ms. Rice said. Activities include a tricycle obstacle course, a piglet-calling contest, scarecrow building, pumpkin painting, butter making and a petting farm.

A bluegrass band called Vintage Blend will perform from noon to 4 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday. The group took first place at the Deer Creek Fiddler's Convention this year.

Admission to the festival is $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens and youth ages 6 to 18. Children under 6 will be admitted free. On Sunday, children will be admitted free when accompanied by their families. Child care will be available.

Information: 301-371-4814.

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