Farmers market faithful hot for local produce

The temperatures soared to triple digits Friday afternoon, but that didn't stop patrons from going to the farmers market at Howard County General Hospital.

"I come here every Friday," said Pat Wilkerson, of Columbia, standing at the booth for Love Dove Farms, buying broccoli and green beans. "If they're here, I'm here. But then again, I don't think this is too bad. I like the heat."

Wilkerson was one of about a dozen shoppers perusing the eight booths set up in the hospital parking lot shortly after it opened at 2 p.m. Vendors at the weekly market were doing all they could to keep their products — and themselves — cool.

"The icing starts to melt, so we keep the cupcakes in the freezer longer and switch out the display every 30 minutes or so," said Allison Elli, with Stone House Bakery. Elli was keeping cool thanks to the six fans set up in the bakery's van.

Across the way, Mitzi Jones of Bowling Green Farm was wrapping cheese in white paper bags to keep the product cool for customers. She stored some of her cheese in a cooler filled with ice, but made short trips between the cooler and her van, where most was kept in a refrigerator.

"It feels like it takes twice as long to do anything in this heat," she said.

The heat was making an impact on turnout, Elli said. She said the crowd was half its usual size.

Jones noted the sparse crowd, and pointed to the half-filled hospital parking lots.

"Maybe it's too hot for people to even get sick," she said.

The vendors anticipated more people would visit later in the day. The market stays open to 6 p.m.

"We're still going to come here," said Natalie Cybyk, of Columbia. "We just make sure to drink a lot of water and stay indoors, mostly. Dress coolly. Keep our hair up."

Even the regulars are affected by the heat, said Grace Windstead, with The Breadery in Oella.

"We have our faithful, but even so, those people come up and say, 'Hi, I want this, this and this. Bye,' " she said..

Vickie Thurston of Columbia was making her first trip to market. She said she's been trying to eat more organic and locally produced food.

"I figured it wouldn't take long, and I don't care so much about the heat," she said. "I think I'm doing OK with the heat. I was in North Carolina last week camping and that was so hot. Now, I'm just acclimating."

Howard County schedules five farmers markets, including Saturdays at the Howard County Library Glenwood Branch (9 am – 12 p.m) and Sundays at the Oakland Mills Village Center ( 9 a.m – 1 p.m.).

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