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A bounty of goods: Baltimore County farmers markets offer fresh food, produce and other wares

On a recent sunny Sunday morning, the Catonsville Sunday Farmers Market was filled with people. The rectangular market, just off of Frederick Road, featured approximately 40 vendors, and people were walking around and trying to see what they could purchase.

This market has been open since 2010 and moved to its present location on Mellor Avenue in 2017, according to Teal Cary, who started everything back then. The Catonsville Chamber of Commerce runs it with Cary being in charge.

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“It is busy,” Cary, the chamber’s community events coordinator, said. “It started because ... Catonsville was pretty quiet on Sundays, and I think the market has really helped it. Now there’s more food businesses. There’s a lot going on in Catonsville now, and I think the market [helped].”

The market is open on Sunday from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on 30 Sundays from the first week of May through the fall. A mix of vendors come to the market to sell their products — there’s farmers from Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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This market is not just about food, though, as other products are available. There’s local vineyards, breweries, and even a knife-sharpening business that seems popular. But in the end, it’s certainly about the food, and there’s plenty of it.

For example, there are crab cakes, mushrooms, goat milk soup, baked products, waffles and pork rinds. There’s also places like Scotty Cakes Handmade Sweets that show up on a regular occasion as they’ve got loyal customers who keep returning.

“This is our favorite market,” said Dee Browne, who operates the business with her niece, Tara Scott. “There’s a great of community here. One of the things that we both enjoy and appreciate is that we have a lot of repeat clients. They don’t mind referring. They give us positive feedback, and even when they give us negative feedback, it’s in a positive way.”

It is not the lone farmers market in Catonsville. The “original” Catonsville Farmers Market was established in 2002 at the Social Security building but moved later to the Christian Temple on Edmondson Avenue. It’s open on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. noon, and is a year-round market — but it shifts to every other week during January through April.

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Cindy Yingling is the market manager and said 12 vendors come in on a regular basis.

“We have a very nice blend, and it is a producer-only market,” she said. “Everything there is grown or produced by the vendor.”

She handles four farmers markets per week with Takoma Park, Waverly and Kenilworth Park being the others. Plus, Yingling has been working with various markets since 1981.

Cary said she sees no problem with having two markets in the same area doing business.

“I think it’s complimentary,” Cary said. “Their markets are on Wednesday in the middle of the day, and we’re on Sunday. We draw from very different demographics. I think we do co-exist with no problem. The whole reason we did it is we knew there were people that couldn’t go on Wednesdays, so we did Sunday.”

Farmers markets have been steadily growing in the United States in the past 30 years. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there were close to 2,000 farmers markets in 1994 but as of recently, that number had risen to about 8,600 registered in the USDA Farmers Market Directory recently.

Also, the USDA said that over 150,000 farmers, ranchers and agricultural people are selling products at these markets. The sales at the markets went over $1.5 billion nationally in 2015.

The Towson Farmers Market also has found success and loyalty over a long period of time. Nancy Hafford, executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, said their market is located on Allegany Avenue between York Road and Washington Avenue. It’s been open for 37 years and features close to 40 different vendors when open each Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

It remains open from early June into mid-November. Hafford said this is an open-air market that features a bit of everything — fruits and vegetables, pickles, cheese, Mexican food, crab cakes, wines, flowers and a vintage clothing bus featuring, of course, psychedelic pants.

Hafford said they should get a boost as Baltimore County employees return to work this month in nearby office buildings.

“We’re grateful [for that],” Hafford said. “That will help our farmers. It’s been a challenge because we’re a business community ... we never stopped holding a farmers market. People have to remember, they are businesses, they need to survive.”

Jonathan Albright, co-owner of Albright Farms in Monkton, stocks his table on the opening day of the Baltimore County Farmers Market at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. Every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., local farmers and producers set up on the north side of the digital sign. Hours change during the Maryland State Fair.
Jonathan Albright, co-owner of Albright Farms in Monkton, stocks his table on the opening day of the Baltimore County Farmers Market at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. Every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., local farmers and producers set up on the north side of the digital sign. Hours change during the Maryland State Fair. (Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun)

Not too far away, the Baltimore County Farmers Market at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium is in its 12th year of operation. They have five vendors this year when open every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. through October. During the state fair at the end of summer, they are open for business every day.

This market is on the rebound from last year’s pandemic, Baltimore County Farmers Market Manager Bill Langlotz said. They had been up to a dozen vendors and now are trying to bounce back while in its 12th year of operation.

They have produce, homemade cheese that’s melted from a local farmer, plus a winery, Harford Vineyards. Langlotz thinks that draws people to the market.

“Knowing that you’re getting local-grown produce — all of our produce is grown in Baltimore County — it makes it more appealing to the local customers,” said Lannglotz, who’s been there since the beginning. “We had a lot of visitors to the state fair who wanted to buy the produce, but they couldn’t buy what was exhibited. So [we] said why not do a farmers market?”

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