Firefly Farms President Mike Koch Shares His Ink

“Tattoos are an addiction, because you’re always thinking about the next one,” says Firefly Farms president Mike Koch. The gourmet goat cheese gerent got his first taste of ink when he got a small salamander etched onto his right leg. “There’s a Hindu fable about two male gods that fall in love and turn themselves into salamanders so they can be together,” he explains.

He couldn’t stop with just one, so he moved on to cultivating a full sleeve on his left arm, which showcases earth, air, fire, and water. There are koi, a hummingbird, a goat, purple clematis flowers, and an ancient Native American symbol for Mother Earth.

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A Taste of Home

Walking through a regional farmers market is like checking an edible calendar. Bundles of glistening green asparagus signal springtime; a bounty of berries is a sign of summer; gourds of every shape and size greet autumn’s arrival; and a booming business at the mulled cider stand means the cycle is complete.

No matter what time of year, it’s a showcase of the best bites and the most superior sips from across the state.

More than 130 farmers markets have sprouted up across Maryland, giving ranchers, vintners, cheesemakers, craftspeople, farmers, foragers, and fishermen alike a chance to directly interact with a growing legion of locavores. On the flipside of the stall, community-conscious consumers now have a way to meet the producers who are helping them serve up a taste of home every day.

From the depths of the Chesapeake Bay to the heights of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the sprawling fields of southern Maryland, the Free State offers a diverse landscape to harness.

“Dairies, orchards, produce, local meats, and seafood—we have it all,” says Christine Bergmark, executive director of the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission.

“There are few states that have all those resources wrapped up into one.”

This attractive advantage cultivates A-list admirers. Chef and reality TV favorite Bryan Voltaggio, for instance, transplanted to Frederick to open haute-cuisine hot spot Volt in the summer of 2008 specifically because of the cornucopia of fresh goods cultivated nearby.

“I get stuff that’s straight out of the ground,” he says. “People show up at the back door with fresh products all the time.”

Finish reading this article on the Maryland Life website now.

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