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Mount Airy welcomes warmer weather, Maryland agriculture secretary to opening of farmers market

After the cool rain and wind most of Maryland has been experiencing all spring, the clouds parted Wednesday to offer a sunny afternoon for the opening of the Mount Airy Main Street Farmers’ Market.

The opening ceremony included more than just a rare sun sighting. Local and state-level dignitaries turned out and live music from Darla Jean and the Somethin’ or Others played to help kick off the tradition that takes place at the railyard off Main Street in Mount Airy and offers local products such as honey, fruit, vegetable, baked goods, plants and more.

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Wendi Peters, from the governor’s office, took time to acknowledge the work that went into the market before introducing Secretary of Agriculture Joseph Bartenfelder.

“It’s so nice to see everyone and appreciate the work that goes into this and the volunteers that each week are out here to make this happen,” Peters said. “Fresh and local is really important to all of us, we’re glad for the effort that you put forward.”

Bartenfelder spoke about the importance of agriculture for the state of Maryland.

“They’re important to towns like Mount Airy that are all over Maryland, they’re important to vendors who come here with their products as a promotion for our campaign at the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Maryland’s best fresh local,” said Bartenfelder. “We’ve seen the Mount Airy farmers market grow, just like products in the field from its infancy just a few years ago when there was only a few vendors in here to now being more than a dozen vendors here, more than 20 throughout the season. That’s what it takes for people to come out and be able to shop.”

According to market master Alice Settle-Raskin, the market has about 13 vendors that are full-time, five that are part-time or guest vendors and still currently accepting more vendors, depending on what the first few weeks look like.

“We have more community support this year, we have more sponsorship, so we make places for them,” said Settle-Raskin. “We have partnerships with Superfoods Café and market across the street. What I wanted to do was bring in an educational program.

Settle-Raskin is hoping to reach 600 patrons per market day, having progressed from 50 to 60 patrons in 2015. Last year, the market was able to receive a couple of grants for marketing and is looking to do the same thing this year.

Some of the vendors at the market were Pizza Llama, Stafford Produce Farm, Furnace Hills Coffee, the Dough Whisperer and so much more.

Mount Airy resident Christina Mougly frequently attends the farmers market since it’s so close.

“I’ve been coming out here the past couple years and I love seeing all the vendors and getting fresh fruit and produce,” said Mougly. “I think it keeps things local. I live right up the street, so I love coming down here and seeing what’s going on in the community.”

The market will be open every Wednesday from 3 to 7 p.m. through Sept. 25, rain or shine, except for July 3 when it will be closed for the Mount Airy fireworks celebration.

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