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Howard County should corral farmers markets into one venue [Letter]

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Having visited the farmers market recently for the first time, I was thrilled to see the featured article, "Too many fruits and vegetables?" in the July 25 issue. I had been discouraged to find just a few vendors, situated in a sweltering parking lot, the nearby trees still too small to cast any useful shade, and there were few customers. This was a totally different experience from country farmers markets I've visited where people come from miles around and are guaranteed to learn something from the vendors. We don't need five slim and uninviting markets. We need one big one, and not a daily option but weekly, so we come to plan our weekends around the event. Rather than have a market in every possible location, why not rotate the venues yearly, choosing beautiful spots around Howard County? And why not provide bus transportation for those without cars, the route being to each of our current farmers' markets?

Since I've lived in Columbia's Running Brook since 1972, naturally, I would vote for Symphony Woods for the first year. Ellicott City residents would have their own favorite spot, maybe the old female academy up on the hill. I imagine a few large vegetable stands with wonderful variety; some bakeries; someone selling homegrown mushrooms; some purveyors of homemade wines, vinegars and jellies; someone selling wool from their own sheep (and maybe spinning the wool right there); others selling beef and chicken meat and eggs from their own farms. Maybe there would be someone spinning cotton candy or selling snow cones, and others might sell plants ready for new home gardens. It would be great to have someone making music quietly in the background —a guitar without an amp would be nice. And maybe an artist doing caricatures or someone doing face painting would add to the fun. Maybe someone would set up a book-trading table. And what about making it possible to use food stamps there as well?

In short, let's make our farmers markets really big community events, that will draw people out of their homes on a Saturday morning, to be together and to buy local.

Ann-Louise S. Silver

Columbia

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