The Easton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) seeks to advance the economic development and prosperity of Easton by promoting and encouraging trade and commerce in areas that are economically stressed.
The Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware contains rich agricultural land within close proximity to Washington D.C. and other large markets. In the state of Maryland, unmet demand for local fruits and vegetables is estimated at $937 million, while unmet demand in Washington DC is estimated at $135 million.
The EEDC established a regional brand, Chesapeake Harvest, to actively manage the marketing and sales of source-identified food products from local and regional producers to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.
Vision and Mission
Chesapeake Harvest envisions a regional food production and distribution system that increases sustainable agricultural employment on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and contributes to a vibrant regional economy, enhanced food production, distribution infrastructure, food security and the preservation of farms.
Chesapeake Harvest will create agricultural jobs by expanding high-value markets for locally grown food. The three-fold strategy for achieving this mission entails facilitating wholesale market access for local, sustainable Delmarva producers; supporting the transition to regenerative growing practices by local producers through technical assistance; and increasing healthy, affordable food options in low-income, low food access communities.
Chesapeake Harvest and similar food hub initiatives have the potential to stimulate an agricultural revival within the Delmarva Peninsula such that every resident of the eastern seaboard region has access to healthy, affordable, local food.
Chesapeake Harvest, a Maryland limited-liability benefit corporation, will invest in sales, marketing, branding and technical assistance to enable Eastern Shore farmers to expand market reach, increase the supply of healthy foods to the region, and create employment opportunities.
Chesapeake Harvest will leverage existing systems and resources to maximize its efficiency and effectiveness. Chesapeake Harvest will aid Eastern Shore growers to ensure the viability of their businesses, while guaranteeing growers a fair price for their products. Using a contract grower model, Chesapeake Harvest will invest in high tunnel infrastructure on existing farms to extend the growing season to a year, supporting full-time, permanent employment, and allowing for purchasing agreements with wholesale buyers such as grocery and restaurant chains throughout Maryland, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and New York (a 200-mile radius).
Chesapeake Harvest will work with producers, buyers and distributors to address challenges involved in scaling up for wholesale channels while maintaining local food value for increasingly discriminating consumers. Chesapeake Harvest will target a variety of wholesale buyers, including grocery stores, broad line distributors, restaurants, and nonprofit organizations focused on providing healthy food to underserved communities.
The Chesapeake Harvest website can be found at http://chesapeakeharvest.com/