Posted on June 08, 1999 at 22:43:09:
I recently met with my friend and former St. Mary's County Commissioner Larry Jarboe and some of Southern Maryland's Amish farmers in my district office to discuss a proposal of which I'm very supportive.
The plan is to create a farmer's market for the Amish to sell their goods in a central location that would be easy to get to from Calvert, St. Mary's and Charles counties -- the median strip north of the intersection of Routes 5 and 6 in Charlotte Hall.
This is a great idea for a lot of reasons.
First, it gives our Amish population a noticeable place to sell goods they produce on their farm. The central location will allow tri-county residents to come to this farmer's market on a regular basis and purchase top quality produce. It also sends a message to our Amish farmers that we care about preserving their unique heritage that we are so proud of in Southern Maryland. Supporting them is essential.
This also allows us to promote various kinds of agriculture in a time when farming is going through a serious transition. There is no question that our tobacco farmers are struggling and many have decided to farm alternative crops.
The success of an Amish farmer's market will give other farmers confidence that alternative crops can be profitable.
I have talked to Governor Glendening about this proposal and he seems very supportive. The state owns the median strip which is wide enough to support a modest farmer's market. This will be a good use of state-owned property that is currently covered over with trees and underbrush. The Amish are so excited about this idea that they have agreed to clear the underbrush so they can set up market.
Last week I also had a lengthy discussion with State Highway Administration District Engineer Paul Armstrong and he indicated he would work with the Amish, me and the governor to ensure the entrance into the market off of Route 5 would be safe to the marketers as well as the motorists.
This is a classic example of citizen participation in government. A group of hard-working, quality people came up with a great idea, presented it to me in a courteous fashion, had it carefully planned out and answered any questions I had about it.
While my conversation with the governor was brief about this project, I expect him to support this worthwhile project.
Meanwhile, the residents of the tri-county area will have another alternative to buying home-grown produce. They'll be getting great produce and a reasonable price and it will be going into the pockets of local people. I support this project wholeheartedly and am grateful for the Amish gentlemen and Commissioner Jarboe for bringing this to my attention.
This idea deserves the support of the governor and the State Highway Administration and I plan to make sure it becomes a reality.