A new restaurant certification initiative and a high school agricultural science program were announced at County Executive Allan Kittleman’s annual roundtable with farm and business owners. Kittleman discussed these and other ongoing agriculture initiatives with more than 40 farmers and business owners at the roundtable, which was held at the Howard County Fairgrounds.

Kittleman started the event to open dialogue about initiatives to support the health and vitality of farming in the county. “We’ve discussed ways to improve relationships with nearby residents and how to make farming more profitable. Some of the suggestions have led directly to efforts like our Farm Academy and the Agriculture Subcabinet,” said Kittleman.

James Zoller, the county’s agriculture coordinator, announced a new program to be launched in March called “We are HoCo Fresh,” which will certify county restaurants that purchase specific amounts of produce, protein and other products from local farms. Restaurants meeting the goals will be able to display and advertise the certification.

In addition, Kathy Johnson, agricultural development manager with the Howard County Economic Development Authority, announced a new agriculture science curriculum to be offered to high school juniors and seniors at the county’s Applications and Research Laboratory beginning in the fall. It will be part of the school system’s honors program.