Marge Wildey is the market manager for the Greenspring Station farmers market. Unlike markets initiated by local jurisdictions or chambers of commerce, Wildey can take sole credit for the Greenspring market.
Wildey, owner of Nut Farm and Creamery in Joppa, sold the idea to the landlord to bring traffic to the station's stores.
"I went to him and asked, 'Can we do this?' and he said, 'Sure,'" recalls Wildey, who opened the market in 2009.
Held on Saturdays from 2 to 5 p.m., Wildey oversees 20 vendors in summer, and eight vendors for the winter version. Vendors pay $160 for the summer season. The landlord pays her salary as market manager.
Because farmers markets are weather-dependent, she isn't sure of the number of visitors per week. However, the market has grown under her management, and Wildey actively seeks vendors to fill "holes."
"People come out for certain things," says Wildey, whose vendors include a bread maker, cookie/cupcake baker and apron-maker, her only non-food vendor.
And pickles. The one season Pat Fitzgibbons, a.k.a. "the Pickle Man," missed the Greenspring Station market, "people were upset," she says.
Fitzgibbons is a former food industry salesman who, in his retirement, has found fame, if not fortune, in pickles. He's got kosher dill and half-sour, bread-and-butter and sweet-and-spicy, jalapeno and a half-dozen others, priced at $5 per pint or $9 per quart.
"I like to experiment with flavors," says Fitzgibbons, who last year introduced spicy Old Bay and wasabi pickles that, uncommon as they might sound, turned out to be quite popular.
This summer, besides Greenspring Station, Fitzgibbons also participates at the Towson and University of Maryland Medical Center farmers markets. So popular are his pickles that customers follow him from market to market.
"They haunt me," Fitzgibbons says of his customers. "But it's a good haunt."
Jason Gross is participating in seven markets this summer. Besides Greenspring Station, they include the University of Maryland, Druid Hill and Fells Point markets. Gross, of Hillside Meadow Farm in Glenville, Pa., wakes up at 4 a.m. so he can get to the markets in time for set-up and opening.
"If we're not on the road to a market or at the market we're home getting ready to go to a market," he says of his summer schedule.
Gross sells all-natural Angus beef and free-range eggs. In produce, he starts with strawberries in the spring, ends with potatoes and winter squash in the fall — "and everything in between," he says.
Gross, too, has developed a following although he is modest about it.
"If they want good tomatoes and sweet watermelon and you give them that, they remember you and come back," he says.