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New farmers market in Violetville opens July 10

Agriculture

Residents of Arbutus, Lansdowne and surrounding communities now have a new opportunity to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.

A farmer's market opens July 10 at the pavilion at the Jenkins Senior Living Campus at the corner of Benson and Caton avenues in Violetville near the campus of St. Agnes Hospital.

Nate Sweeney, a neighborhood guide and assistant community leader at the Neighborhoods at St. Elizabeth on the Jenkins campus, organized the event.

"It was a few years ago when the pavilion that's on our campus was just finished being constructed," Sweeney said of the structure built in 2010. "It struck me one day that it would be a wonderful place for a farmers market."

Since that day two years ago, Sweeney has worked with Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment to write and receive a $10,000 grant to start a farmer's market in an area that doesn't have one, after the close of the Arbutus Farmers Market last summer.

"The grant was an opportunity to launch a new farmers market to make fresh produce available to areas that might otherwise be underserved," Sweeney said.

The market in Arbutus, which lasted for two years and was sponsored by the Arbutus Business and Professional Association, was previously the only market in the area for residents to buy fresh produce.

Patti Sue Nolan, former president of the ABPA, said the group's market disbanded after a number of vendors either left for other markets or went out of business.

"We had a really good group of vendors," Nolan said, citing a bakery, an orchard, and a vegetable farmer who made up the core group at the Arbutus weekday market.

After the orchard moved to another market and the bakery and their organic farmer went out of business, Nolan said it was time to call it quits.

"You need fruits and vegetables to have a good farmers market," she said. "We just decided that we were going to let it fold."

Nolan said she was thrilled to hear about the arrival of a new market within an short distance of the business group's market in downtown Arbutus.

"I'm so excited," she said. "I think it's something that's really needed in this area.

"Right in Arbutus there are not a lot of good fresh fruits and vegetables," Nolan said. "I think it's perfect."

Sweeney said the Violetville market will feature four farmers to start — Cherry Hill Urban Farm from Baltimore City, Rebecca's Organic Garden from Columbia, Pine Grove Farms from Federalsburg and Martin's Family Herb Farms from Rosedale.

"We are keeping things kind of raw, agricultural products," he said. "Less of the restaurant style or takeaway places."

Sweeney said the new market will operate from noon to 4 p.m. each Wednesday until October and serve the residents on the Jenkins campus as well as the neighboring communities in southwestern Baltimore County.

Sweeney said the market's location, near the Caton Avenue campus of Seton Keough High School and next to the Pine Heights Avenue campus of Violetville Elementary/Middle School makes it convenient for parents to stop by.

"It's a chance for people to come on their lunch breaks, (or) when (summer) camp is getting out (and) people are picking up their kids to swing by," Sweeney said.

"We have this beautiful campus here," he said. "We want to invite people to come and see it and to be able to share this space that we have with the surrounding community in a meaningful way."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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