EASTON Mild temperatures and a changing calendar mean spring is right around the corner.
With two weeks to go, the Maryland Department of Agriculture celebrates National Agriculture Week this week with seven ways residents can get involved with Maryland agriculture.
On the 2 million farm acres in Maryland, farmers produce 42.5 million pounds of apples, 1.4 billion pounds of chicken and 4 million tons of peaches, among many other food products for citizens to eat.
Agriculture remains a large industry on the Easton Shore, with poultry and nursery businesses and farms growing corn, soybeans and other crops.
"It's important to stop and recognize agriculture, and appreciate what we have access to," said Shannon Dill, University of Maryland Extension Office agent for Talbot County. "It's definitely a huge industry for the Eastern Shore. Farmers provide so many fresh foods.
"The growing season is near, and we look forward to all the farmers markets and businesses growing flowers," she said. "Agriculture is very easily taken for granted. Often when you're in the store, we forget who got the products on the shelf."
The MDA highlights seven ways citizens can celebrate Maryland agriculture during National Agriculture Week and throughout the year.
The MDA urges Marylanders to serve meals and pack lunches for children with local products.
It's also a good time to start to plan a garden with the Maryland farmers' campaign, "Take it from Maryland Farmers: Backyard Actions for a Cleaner Chesapeake Bay." Horticulture is Maryland's second largest agricultural sector. The MDA asks residents to sow a vegetable garden and repair lawns with certified seed.
For residents looking to tour Eastern Shore wineries this spring, www.marylandwine.com offers a Chesapeake Wine Trail.
According to the American Horse Council, the Maryland horse industry has an annual economic impact of $1.6 billion with 60 percent Maryland horses being used for recreation purposes.
Through April 3, MDA offers a "Farmers Feed Us" sweepstakes with a chance to win one of four $5,000 grand prizes of free groceries for a year. To register, visit www.farmersfeedus.org/ma.