Hereford Farm Market shoppers enjoy local fresh produce, other products

Finding specialty goods — organic eggs, goat cheese, goat cheese cheesecake, whole grain bread and rolls, honey, vegetables, herbs, pork, lamb, turkey, chicken, flavored olive oil, balsamic vinegar, native plants, trees, shrubs and flowers — just became easier now that the new Hereford Farm Market is beckoning shoppers every Saturday morning through the end of October.

The market is held at the intersection of York and Mount Carmel roads on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Karen and Stan Cohn, of Parkton, own the property and have encouraged local farmers, musicians and crafters to participate.

"The whole idea is to give people wholesome food that is locally grown," Karen Cohn said. "We plan on having talks and a demonstration garden. People can get recipes and a chance to talk with the people growing the food. The food will be super fresh since most of it will be picked the night before."

But the market has more than food. Local musicians will perform each Saturday and there is a juried arts and crafts show each week, too. Moreover, a group of Master Gardeners will answer questions about plant health.

The nearby Filling Station in Sparks will be selling refreshments for before or after shopping enjoyment.

Vendor space is $10 for regulars and $15 for the occasional seller. Local nonprofits may set up a table for free.

The Cohns, who raise organic vegetables, are not selling their produce, but will oversee the market. They are not taking a percentage of the vendors' sales, and will donate any proceeds after meeting their expenses to two North County food banks.

Afyer overnight rain ended in time for the opening of the market on May 11, Monkton resident Margie Jones was there early looking for heirloom tomatoes.

"I want a few varieties for my raised beds," she said as she talked with Lisa Duff, of Oak Spring Farm. "I'm not ready to plant today, so I'll come back next week and buy some. I love farm markets."

Freeland's Sharon Waller carried a bright yellow bag overflowing with beets she just bought from Side by Side Farm.

"I have my own garden, but these beets looked great. I had to buy some salad mix, too," she said.

The market also featured arts and crafts vendors while Amanda Karlie's homemade clothing captured the attention of another vendor.

Georgia Gregory, 6, helped her parents make homemade dog biscuits to sell at the Contented Rooster Farm booth. She bought a skirt with two rows of pockets from Karlie's Down Home Girl booth and walked around the market selling dog biscuits.

"I put the money right here in these pockets," said the Seventh District kindergarten student.

Getting started

The idea for a local farm market began two years ago when the Cohns took a course on how to run a profitable small farm at the Agricultural Center on Shawan Road. They met other North County would-be farmers who all shared a desire to grow food for their families and sell it locally, too.

"The class really challenged us," said Stan Cohn, a veterinarian whose practice was at the farmers market location before he moved it to Pennsylvania. He now rents the building to several tenants. "Most of the vendors coming to this farm market live within 10 miles of Hereford. We've been trying to find a way to give back to the community, and this is it."

Last year, the Cohns organized a one-time farm market on June 23 to gauge interest.

"There was one small notice in the North County News about it and 400 people showed up," Karen Cohn said.

Lisa Duff, who owns Oak Spring Farm in Freeland, met the Cohns at the farming class and participated in last year's one-day market.

"I think it's a great idea," said Duff. "We shopped at local farm markets all the time when we lived in southern California and were surprised there weren't any when we moved here seven years ago."

Oak Spring Farm sells vegetables and eggs from a flock of 75 chickens. Their customer list includes Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore. The farm has 20 members in its community supported agriculture (CSA) arrangement, where participants pay up-front for 22 weeks worth of vegetables that are picked up at the Freeland farm.

Another Freeland farm to join the Hereford Farm Market has seen its business grow by 600 percent in the past year, said Pam Miller, of Charlottetown Farm. Her family moved from Monkton to 20 acres in Freeland to try their luck at making and selling goat cheese.

Miller uses fresh goat milk to produce several varieties of cheese, goat milk truffles, fudge, caramel sauce and goat cheese cheesecake. She makes 150-200 pounds of cheese each week at a licensed raw goat milk dairy and creamery in Harrisburg, Pa. Her customers include 22 restaurants. She also sells at the Waverly Farm Market, which attracts 5,000 people each Saturday.

"I started out making cheese for the Monkton Garden Club, and they all said, 'You should sell this cheese,' " she said. "People love everything I make, especially the goat cheese cheesecake. It's really been a dream come true."

She said the Cohns heard of her products and asked her to join the Hereford Farm Market.

"I really don't have the time, but it's right in my backyard — so I couldn't say no," she said, noting that her mother, Joan Huth, will be at the market each Saturday.

Karen Cohn and Marion Mullan, of Mullan Nursery in White Hall, have planted several gardens on the farmers market grounds and will use them as outdoor classrooms.

One garden has organic vegetables and features drip irrigation, while another is full of berry-producing plants. The two women hope to have demonstrations and talks on subjects like hydroponics, permaculture and organic gardening.

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