Catonsville farmer's markets mark start of summer

Catonsville residents are preparing for the start of an annual tradition, ushered in by warmer weather and blossoming flora.

The Wednesday and Sunday Catonsville Farmer's Markets will begin their 2013 seasons starting May 1 and May 5, respectively.

The Wednesday market began more than 10 years ago, Market Master Cindy Yingling said.

Yingling is a co-owner of Glenville Holly Farm — one of 11 Wednesday vendors — and said that, though she lives and works in Pennsylvania, she is thrilled to continue her partnership with Catonsville.

"Over 10 years ago — we've been there that long — the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the community of Catonsville were looking for a market," Yingling said.

"It was a big enough community and an area really at that time where there were little to no markets close," she said.

"It was a very good situation," Yingling said.

This year, in addition to the vegetables sold by her farm, vendors will provide customers with a variety of products ranging from eggs to bread to flowers to meat from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday until Nov. 27 in the Bloomsbury Community Center parking lot.

The Wednesday market also provides a number of payment options including SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children).

Yingling said those options are critical, "so people can have access to local food."

"That is so very important," she said.

Yingling said the markets will typically feature a musical performance and that she looks forward to seeing now-familiar faces in the crowd.

"Since it's been there so long, we have a lot of very regular customers," she said.

Teal Cary, executive director for the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, is looking forward to a similar atmosphere at the Sunday market, hosted by the chamber.

"When you come to the market ... it's like you see people go, 'Oh my gosh, I haven't seen you in forever,' " Cary said.

"It's become a real fun meeting place for our community," she said.

The Sunday market will host 24 vendors, including eight new ones, this year and will kick off the 2013 with a performance by musical guest Bob Margolis at the opening day.

For one of those new vendors, the market is an opportunity to return to their roots.

Kirk Getka, who, along with his wife, owns Thistle Rock Farm and Nursery in Sharpsburg, Md., grew up on Melvin Avenue in Catonsville and is looking forward to returning to the area.

"I think it'll be a lot of fun," said Getka, a graduate of Mount Saint Joseph College.

"I really enjoyed growing up in that area," he said.

He said he and his wife are looking to scale back their wholesale business and that the Catonsville market seemed like a great opportunity to do so.

"I know that Frederick Road corridor has traditionally been a good area for business," said Getka, whose brother still resides in Catonsville.

"Plus we are also trying to scale back a little on the wholesale and get a little more into retail," he said.

"With all of that combined, it seemed like a good fit," Getka said.

"If I run into anybody (that I know), that'll be an extra benefit," he said.

Cary said the chamber began the Sunday market four years ago after realizing that many of their members were unable to attend the Wednesday market. She said the additional day provides welcome variety.

"It's a whole different group of vendors, which I think gives the community different options," Cary said.

She also said it gives community members an opportunity to stay in Catonsville rather than travel to other markets including the Baltimore Farmers Market and Bazaar located under the Jones Fall Expressway.

This year, the Sunday market will feature only Maryland farms in order to encourage residents to buy local.

Cary said the chamber wants to encourage residents to "support farming in general."

"To keep the family farm alive and well in the state," Cary said.

The Sunday market will run every Sunday until Nov. 24 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 730 Frederick Road in the parking lot behind Friendly's.

Both events are rain or shine.

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