By Katie Hetherington Cunfer
Director of Government and Community Relations, GRCA
The Great Reading Chamber Alliance has been busy this year continuing to support the agri-food community. Agriculture remains a prominent industry in Berks County, and one of the lessons of the pandemic is that when the supply chain is disrupted, people have started to turn to local farmers to meet their demands. needs.
In response to the emerging trends of COVID-19 as well as the growing agribusiness model of direct-to-consumer sales, the Brighter Futures campaign was born in 2020. This agricultural literacy campaign was a vehicle to educate our community on all the excellent local products. which are made here in Berks County. It’s even better that our community can get these items directly from the producers. No intermediary needed.
According to the 2017 agricultural census, there are over 1,800 farms in Berks County, most of which are family-owned, so it makes perfect sense for the GRCA to partner with the Berks Agricultural Resource Network to create and continue this campaign in 2021.
In addition to digital marketing highlighting local farms and monthly emails to those in the farming community, GRCA is once again working with BARN members on a Holiday Food & Gift Guide.
The guide will present a wide variety of agricultural products. You can experience everything from locally produced meats and cheeses to handmade crafts, like a spotted lantern tree ornament from Plow Farms in Mohton.
Some of the gifts suggested in the guide are downright original but could be useful to the right person. Take the Tilapia Poo from Crossover Farms in Shoemakersville. It is made from tilapia waste, well water and a special protein booster blend and used as a soil and plant booster. Hey, you might have a keen gardener who dodges all of the chemicals on your list, so maybe you are. It might be worth thinking about it.
The guide will also introduce several local wineries, which had a fantastic harvest this year, local breweries, and delicious baked goods that will make you look like a rock star at holiday gatherings this season.
To kick off this year’s gift guide, BARN and GRCA will be hosting a pop-up Christmas market featuring participating guides. The market will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday, November 1, at Reinhart’s Christmas Tree Farm, 326 Oak Lane, Bernville. It’s $ 10 to attend and $ 30 will allow you to participate in the event as well as a membership in BARN 2022. To register, visit www.berksag.org.
Producers will be offering samples of their products and items for purchase so you can beat the rush and get some goodies for the season ahead of time. You can also access the gift guide at reconstructberks.com/grow-together. We hope you choose to give Berks County the gift this season and continue to support our local economy.