On June 6, the Hampstead Farmers Market will begin its sixth season, offering the public colorful produce, meats, crafts and homemade baked goods. The market will run from 9 a.m. to noon each Saturday on the grounds of the Hampstead fire company at 1341 N. Main St. in Hampstead.
"Our vendors must make it, bake it or grow it," said Marlene Duff, who manages the market with Sharon Callahan. "At the beginning of the season we have more crafters and bakers, but by mid-July all of our produce vendors are there. Since it is a producer-only market our farmers can only bring what they have and produce, like tomatoes won't come in until about mid-July."
Callahan and Duff started the market in 2010 and continue to spend countless volunteer hours to keep it up and running.
"Sharon and I both served on the Hampstead planning and zoning commission in 2009," Duff said. "We were talking at a meeting about the number of vacant storefronts on Main Street and trying to figure out a way to attract small businesses and at the same time revitalize Main Street. Sharon had this idea. She said, 'We are surrounded by all these wonderful family farms. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had a Hampstead Farmers Market?' At the time, I told her if she ever wanted to do that I would help."
They put an ad in a local newspaper asking if there was an interest in a farmers market, inviting the public to a meeting to share their thoughts.
"We were thrilled with the response to that first meeting," Callahan said. "Out of that came the farmers market, and it has been the most rewarding thing. We do it for love."
Callahan said the market has grown exponentially the years.
"We started with three to five vendors and had seven by the end of the first year," she said. "Now we have 30 vendors but not all come at once. It depends on their crops and what they have ready to sell. Marlene carries a clicker to count people. If you talk to her and she has that glazed-over look, it is not because she is not interested, but because she is counting."
Duff said they had help from others.
"Haven Shoemaker, mayor [of Hampstead] at the time, helped us work with the fire department so we could have it on Main Street in a very visual location," Duff said. "We thought once people came they might stay on Main Street to see what else is there."
A few vendors who are new to this year's market include Pins & Needles, offering pocketbooks, aprons and more; Big Guy's Treats, with snowballs and other treats; the Mondel Bread Bakery, with mondel bread, banana bread, chocolate chip walnut cake and other baked goods; The Baker's Nook with cupcakes, pies, fudge bread and more; and Java Vault Cafe selling brewed coffee, bagels, oatmeal and other items.
Callahan said many vendors who are with the Hampstead Farmers Market have grown their businesses as a result of the market.
"It gave them [more] business and the confidence to move on," she said. "There are so many good things that we have accomplished out of this market that have nothing to do with money. It's more about community, working together and collaboration."
Duff and Callahan both said they love to observe people interacting at the market, whether they are chatting in small groups, making sales, greeting friends or making new ones.
"The post office last year did a farmers market stamp and on the back of the sheet it talked about how farmers markets across the USA are essentially the new town square," Duff said. "That is what it is like. That is the essence of the Hampstead Farmers Market."
Duff said the market averaged 23 vendors each Saturday and had 17,000 customers visit during the 2014 summer season.
"That is close to 1,000 customers each Saturday," she said.
Callahan said she has a new goal for 2015.
"You have to have a positive attitude and you have to have a vision and believe in what you are doing, and we do," Callahan said. "I set a goal this year to have 20,000 people visit for the season."
Hampstead soap-maker Larry Foreman said he and his wife learned about the farmers market because they were customers first. This will be their second year offering goods as a vendor. They credit the market with launching their business.
"We touch the soap every day — whether making it, wrapping or stamping it," he said. "It is a labor of love. Every single bar passes through my hands and if it is not right, it does not go out for sale. As soon as a customer picks it up, looks at it and then smells it, they buy it. We see the same customers back for more — so I know they are enjoying it."
Foreman said they also sell bath bombs and have just added a new luxury soap line called Ultra-10.
Susie Lawrence, of Union Bridge, said she loves the sense of community at the Hampstead Farmers Market and is looking forward to returning. With her mom, sister, daughter and two nieces, she runs Country Heritage Baking, a business she said came naturally.
"My sister and I were in 4-H and my mom has always loved to bake," Lawrence said. "We learned from her and we love trying new recipes."
This will be Country Heritage Baking's fifth year at the market.
"Everybody is so friendly, the vendors and the customers," Lawrence said. "We have our regulars and new ones each week."
Lawrence said their most popular items are their cookies, especially chocolate chip. Last year they offered as many as 12 varieties at one time.
"Some weeks we will sell 50 dozen, but we also bake breads, scones, pies, and make candies, like fudge," she said. "What we bring depends on the weather. If it is too warm, things like fudge don't hold up as well."
According to Duff, Hampstead Mayor Chris Nevin will cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the market at 9 a.m. June 6. Hampstead magician Dave Thomen of D's Magic will be there from 10 to 11 a.m. with a free magic show followed by free balloon art.
A Market Preview Day will be held at the North Carroll branch of the Carroll County Public Library, at 2255 Hanover Pike in Greenmount, from 1 to 3 p.m. June 5. During this event, several vendors will be set up in the large conference room to display and sell their products. See page 11 for other information.
The market will be moved to a different location, which will be announced on http://www.hampsteadfarmersmarket.com, Aug. 8 and 15, in preparation for and during the Hampstead Fire Carnival.
Callahan said she has watched children grow up by watching them weekly at the farmers market, from the farmers and their families in their vendor stands to returning customers with their little ones, she said.
"Our farmers, vendors, artisans and craftspeople have developed wonderful friendships with each other," Callahan said. "As the vendors arrive to set up, [Marlene and I] look at each other and laugh like a couple of kids. It is such a joyous thing to see the market change to a field of color and laughter and friendships."
If you go:
What: Hampstead Farmers Market
When: Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon from June 6 through Sept. 26.
Where: Hampstead fire company grounds, 1341 N. Main St., Hampstead.