Agriculture, Seafood and Forestry Overview
Agriculture, seafood, and forestry remain important industry sectors that are central in helping retain St. Mary's County's rural lands, rural character, and in managing growth that could conflict with operations at military installations in the County.
The County’s Strategic Plan to Build an Innovation Driven Economy recognizes that
"St. Mary’s County’s economy can become stronger and more resilient through diversification. Growing NAS Pax River and the jobs associated with the base will always be a primary goal but growing jobs that are not linked to NAS is now a strategic focus for the County."
The Strategic Plan targets the agriculture and aquaculture sectors in the County for expansion. The Agricultural and Seafood Division in the Department of Economic Development has a primary responsibility for supporting growth of the County’s agriculture and aquaculture sector.
Over the last seven to ten years, St. Mary’s County’s agriculture and seafood products have achieved increased market shares triggered largely by the success of agritourism initiatives and the farm-to-table food movement. Oyster aquaculture techniques have invigorated the local seafood industry with a number of profitable and growing oyster farms now located in St. Mary’s County.
St. Mary’s County’s agriculture and water heritage presents numerous opportunities to develop experiences celebrating these traditional industry sectors by connecting visitors with what is authentic and unique to the community. The burgeoning farm-to-table food movement, motivated by the desire for participatory experiences in agritourism, also creates new market opportunities for local growers. The growth of local breweries, distilleries and wineries not only supports new, value-added agriculture enterprises but creates unique and popular gathering places for socializing. Enhanced infrastructure for sports, recreation and cultural experiences and improved access for hiking, biking, boating or just enjoying natural beauty in scenic rural landscapes are important to attracting overnight visitors and to retaining young professionals and fostering new business growth in St. Mary’s County.