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Maryland farmers discuss adapting to COVID-19

Young Farmer Podcast: Karl Shlagel and Amanda Hand share how the pandemic has impacted their operations.

Chris Torres, Editor, American Agriculturist

May 1, 2020

While we normally do in-depth interviews of young farmers trying to make it in the business, we decided to see how two young farmers in Maryland are coping with COVID-19 and how it has affected their businesses.

Karl Shlagel is the co-owner of Shlagel Farms in Waldorf, Md., that grows vegetables, hay, pasture and strawberries.

Even though it’s early, Shlagel says he’s more sales focused than ever as he tries to find markets for his products. Much of his wholesale business has slowed, he says. While he’s avoiding having people on the farm for pick-your-own strawberries, he’s still producing more than he and his family can consume, so he’s set up pop-up markets in local towns.

He’s also making deliveries to local food banks and has even started making vegetable bags for senior citizens.

Amanda Hand of MKONO Farm in Huntingtown, Md., says she’s busier than ever marketing her Kunekune pigs to local buyers.

Kunekune pigs feed on grass
HOT PIGS: Kunekune pigs, which originate from New Zealand, are the hot item being sold by MKONO Farm in Huntingtown, Md.

More people are discovering local food sources, she says, especially as grocery stores struggle to keep shelves stocked because of supply chain issues.

She’s also delivering products to her customers, and she has spearheaded an effort to get the local farmers market she sells at to go completely online.

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About the Author(s)

Chris Torres

Editor, American Agriculturist

Chris Torres, editor of American Agriculturist, previously worked at Lancaster Farming, where he started in 2006 as a staff writer and later became regional editor. Torres is a seven-time winner of the Keystone Press Awards, handed out by the Pennsylvania Press Association, and he is a Pennsylvania State University graduate.

Torres says he wants American Agriculturist to be farmers' "go-to product, continuing the legacy and high standard (former American Agriculturist editor) John Vogel has set." Torres succeeds Vogel, who retired after 47 years with Farm Progress and its related publications.

"The news business is a challenging job," Torres says. "It makes you think outside your small box, and you have to formulate what the reader wants to see from the overall product. It's rewarding to see a nice product in the end."

Torres' family is based in Lebanon County, Pa. His wife grew up on a small farm in Berks County, Pa., where they raised corn, soybeans, feeder cattle and more. Torres and his wife are parents to three young boys.

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