Gathering at the Community Table: Celebrating Harford’s Farms and Food

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Harford Community College’s first Scholar in Residence Program focuses on the county’s food history and land stewardship

“Gathering at the Community Table: Celebrating Harford’s Farms and Food” is the theme of the first Harford Community College Scholar in Residence program, which focuses on Harford County’s rich food history and land stewardship.

Led by Sharon L. Stowers, Ph.D., Harford Community College’s first Scholar in Residence, the yearlong project will encompass a community ethnography of Harford County’s agriculture and food culture and will offer numerous opportunities for students and the community to be involved through a conference, lectures, discussions, film screenings, cooking demonstrations and more. The project will collaborate and engage with many from Harford Community College’s campus and with local government and nonprofits.

Some of the goals of “Gathering at the Community Table” include:

• Studying the socio-cultural customs of Harford County’s food system and documenting how the county is adapting to the public’s changing food preferences and sustainability concerns of the 21st century
• Developing a special topics course for Harford Community College titled, “Food, Culture and Society,” for spring 2019
• Constructing a traveling exhibit on Harford County’s agricultural history and food diversity that can be displayed at nontraditional venues such as farmers markets, grocery stores, restaurants and other local establishments

The results of the research from the project will be made available to Harford County Government, local and state nonprofit agriculture and food associations, and other stakeholders to assist in food and nutrition policy and program development.

Stowers, the Scholar in Residence, is an expert on the program topic. She serves as a professor of anthropology and sociology at Harford Community College in addition to being a registered dietitian nutritionist. She has worked extensively with government and nonprofit organizations on issues of culturally relevant food policy, programs and food guides and has published on these topics. She holds a doctorate in cultural and biological anthropology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Several program events have been scheduled with more to be announced. The first features Kerry Dunnington, author of a new book, “The Seasonal Kitchen,” who will share ideas and techniques for creating tasty, satisfying and nutritious meals from the local harvest on October 27 at 3 p.m. in Edgewood Hall, Room 132.

In addition, there will be a conference titled, “Food, Farmers and Community: Opening the Dialogue,” focusing on Harford County’s agriculture and food system and the advantages of buying local, on March 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Edgewood Hall, Room 132. The conference is geared to both farmers and the public to learn about and discuss issues facing farmers today.

During National Library Week in April 2019, there will be a One Harford, One Book discussion about “Farmacology: Total Health From the Ground Up,” written by Daphne Miller, M.D. The food-themed book selection celebrates the wisdom of farming as a model for health.

“Diced! A Food Fight for Our Farmers,” will be held June 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the Vandiver Inn in Havre de Grace.

More information about programming and this year’s Scholar in Residence program may be found at www.harford.edu/gathering.

A new initiative resulting from this year’s Scholar in Residence program is the Harford Community College-Harford County Agricultural Work Group. The work group was founded this year by the College, Harford County Government, University of Maryland Extension-Harford County, Harford County Soil Conservation District, Harford County Farm Bureau and Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation. The work group is collaborating to develop several projects to serve Harford County’s agricultural producers and consumers.

One project the group is working on with major support from Harford County Office of Community and Economic Development is a mobile app to map Harford County farms and what they produce, so the public can “buy local” directly from Harford County agricultural producers. The app is being developed by the students who are part of North Harford High School’s Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Magnet Program.

“’Gathering at the Table’ is an example of how Harford Community College is a leader in our community and has been for more than 60 years. I am excited that the College is reaching out to our agricultural community, bringing our local farmers together to dialogue with the public about the latest trends in changing food preferences and the realities of producing safe, affordable, nutritious food in the 21st century,” said Stowers, the program coordinator. “Our hope is to cultivate a community of informed citizen agricultural advocates who support and celebrate ‘home grown’ food in our county.”

The Scholar in Residence program is an opportunity for full-time faculty to shift from a teaching-centered role to one that is research/scholarship-centered while still maintaining a full-time, active presence on the campus and within the community.

Harford Community College offers more than 80 affordable degree and certificate programs of study as well as a variety of noncredit community education and workforce development courses. Located on 352 acres near Bel Air, Harford Community College has been helping Harford Countians achieve their goals since 1957. For more information, visit harford.edu.

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