COLLEGE PARK — As the county starts to see more sunshine local farmers, growers, crafters, and food enthusiasts begin to stretch their legs and their pocket books at the city farmers markets. On almost any day of the week, municipalities and communities throughout the county host farmers markets, providing local produce, crafts, and a community […]
COLLEGE PARK — As the county starts to see more sunshine local farmers, growers, crafters, and food enthusiasts begin to stretch their legs and their pocket books at the city farmers markets.
On almost any day of the week, municipalities and communities throughout the county host farmers markets, providing local produce, crafts, and a community social environment.
“It’s just an old thing that has been around since the 1900s,” said Virginia Brown, owner of Ginny’s Gourmet Products. “It’s where you meet and greet people. It’s where you buy local foods.”
Brown sells her salsa, jams and canned goods as a vendor at the Bowie Farmers Market, which runs on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the parking lot of Bowie High School. Brown works at the Bowie market because it is close to her and all her customers are in the area. She enjoys her time at the market interacting with local residents.
“I like to come out because I am a people person,” she said, “It’s really a meeting place for people that haven’t seen each other in winter. And there is all this fresh produce.”
Inge Babbington said the community atmosphere attracts her to the Hollywood Farmers Market in north College Park. Babbington, who sells hand-crotched goods such as infant dresses and washcloths at the market, said those attend the Hollywood Farmers Market are “always so sweet and polite.”
“Everybody helps each other set up, bring down. It’s just really nice,” she said.
Babbington learned to crochet when she was six, but said her passion for the craft really picked up when she her family started to grow larger.
“I became a grandmother four years ago and I kind of went crazy,” she said. “It’s just a little hobby I do…It keeps me busy, keeps me out of trouble.”
Christiane Williams, the chair of the board for the Hollywood Farmers Market, said the market grew out of a need for local produce and goods in the area.
“We have a lot of people in this area and we didn’t have a local market,” she said. “We had a basic need for this market but we didn’t have anything within walking distance.”
Julie Beavers, the market master for the Hollywood Farmers Market, has run the market for the past two years and said the location provides convenient access for visitors.
“If you can walk, you can bike, listen to local music, have lunch, it’s just wonderful,” Beavers said. “It’s very community based. The vendors are local residents and they want to show what they’ve made.”
DeTnda Clinkscale, a Bowie resident, said she tries to get out to the local farmers market twice a month to support local business.
“It feels good. The fresh stuff, good people—it’s perfect and it’s good for my family and I want to help the local farmers,” she said.
The market gives Clinkscale an opportunity to buy “good food” such as fresh spinach kale and green beans.
“It’s good for our brain. God made it, there’s no preservatives. It’s good for our bodies. I feel like am serving my family well when I buy it,” she said.
While the Hollywood market is well attended, Beavers said she worries people take markets and local food for granted.
“We need to support these markets and farmers more often. People take them for granted and think ‘Oh, I’ll just go next time,’ but what we have is a good solid basis here for people to eat local,” Beavers said.
Brown said she has also noticed a change in interest in recent years as the generations shift.
“The past two years I’ve noticed that it’s like I’ve had to start my business over again,” she said. “We have to really teach ya’ll that it’s important for these markets to be here.”
Other farmers markets
Other markets in the county include the Greenbelt Farmers Market, the Hyattsville Farmers Market, and the College Park Farmers Market on Saturdays.
The Greenbelt Farmers Market is a Sunday market starting at 10 a.m. and is located behind the Greenbelt Municipal Building. The Greenbelt market focuses on producer only products and restricts its vendors to only Maryland based or within 100 miles, according to Stacy Brooks, a member of the Greenbelt Farmers Market board.
“We want things to be consumable,” Brooks said. “That’s our focus. We are a farmers market and that is what we are here for. A lot of people are able to eat locally because of the market and we definitely support the buy local, eat local movement.”
The Hyattsville Farmers Market takes place on Tuesdays at 3 p.m. at the Redeemer Lutheran Church parking lot. The market moved locations this year to a more visible area, according to the market manager, Ellarose Preston.
In addition to the new location, the city government has extended the Call-A-Bus system to all Hyattsville residents for the farmers market. Preston said the service, the city already provides to seniors, will provide added convenience for all residents attending the market.
“All you have to do is call the day before by 2 p.m., make a reservation and you have a ride to the famers market,” said Presenton. “It’s a great place to be on a Tuesday afternoon.”
The market, in its 24th season, focuses on promoting health wellness and education, Preston said.
Phil Miller of Miller Farms runs the College Park Farmers Market on Saturdays beginning at 7 a.m. Miller said the market has run for 35 years and has experienced a lot of changes over the years.
“We’ve very small,” he said. “But it’s still good enough to be here. We’ll never quit.”