18 things you might not expect at Howard County farmers markets
Oct 03, 2019 | 5:00 AM
To Kathy Johnson, there’s nothing like tasting that first strawberry of the spring when it’s freshly picked, that first ear of sweet corn in the summer and that first crisp apple in the fall.
That’s why, between May and November, Johnson and countless others buy their produce from one of six Howard County farmers markets.
“All of the fruits and vegetables are usually picked that morning or the night before, so you know it’s at the peak of ripeness and freshness, it’s at the peak of nutritional value, and the flavor is so much better than something that has been traveling anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 miles before it gets to your grocery store,” says Johnson, director of agricultural business development for the Howard County Economic Development Authority.
farmers markets also give customers a chance to meet their local farmers, reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to the local economy, she says.
The number of farmers markets in Howard County has fluctuated over the years, with the county housing as few as one and as many as seven in a season. Too many markets can lead to smaller crowds and lower profits for the farmers, Johnson says. In recent years, markets have closed in Glenwood and outside of Howard County General Hospital in Columbia.
The key to a successful market is variety, says Jamie Brown, owner of TLV Tree Farm in Glenelg and president of the Howard County Global Farmers Markets board, which operates three of the six markets in the county.
“One grower comes out of Virginia,” he says. “They’re two to three weeks ahead of us in the growing season. We put them in the market so we get the early tomatoes, the early sweet corn. Then when we [grow] them, they start getting into their fall stuff. It keeps the ball rolling through the year with plenty of vegetables at the market.”
Along with the cornucopia of fruits and vegetables, shoppers can buy everything from local milk, eggs and meat to prepared meals, artwork and whiskey at the markets.
Here’s where to find them – and some of the more unusual items offered – this fall.
Ellicott City Old Town Market
Saturdays through Oct. 26, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Howard County Courthouse parking lot, 3691 Sarah’s Lane, Ellicott City
Horseshoe sculptures from Strohmer’s Farm – Woodstock farmer Bud Strohmer creates tabletop art pieces out of metal horseshoes designed to look like cowboys sitting on a fence. $15-$145.
Peruvian specialty drinks from Tasty Peruvian – Ritesh Manjakuppam and Lucrecia Santoyo of Columbia make and sell chichi morada made from purple corn (grown in the mountains of Peru) and maracuya made from passion fruit. $5 for 24 ounces.
Necklaces from With Love, Sarah – Owner and Marriottsville resident Sarah Bovie makes necklaces from broken pottery found during the Ellicott City flood cleanup and then donates half of the profits back to shop owners. $30.
Fresh turkey from TLV Tree Farm – Glenelg farmer Jamie Brown and his family raise and process turkeys on their farm, making them available to customers in early November. $3.49 per pound.
Jackfruit juice and jerk chicken from Althea’s Almost Famous – Columbia resident Althea Becke draws upon her Jamaican roots to make a range of specialty dishes at the market. 5 for a 16-ounce jackfruit juice, $15 for jerk chicken.
Salted caramel cupcakes from Stone House Cakery and Cafe – The Carroll County business uses fresh ingredients from local farms whenever possible. $3 each, or $10 for four.
Decorative pumpkins and colorful tote bags from The Salvaged Stitch – West Friendship resident Deanna Newkirk makes the pumpkins from upholstery fabric samples. She also makes three sizes of tote bags. $6 for pumpkins, $16-$24 for tote bags.
Pumpkin streusel and cinnamon roll muffins from Not Your Grandma’s Goodies – Jen Lamp of Laurel bakes these low-carb, gluten-free treats. $4 each for seasonal muffins, or three for $10.
Raw milk and heavy cream from Hensing’s Hilltop Acres – Maryland law prevents sales of raw milk for human consumption, so the Dayton farm’s products are labeled for pets. $5 per half gallon of raw milk, $8 per pint of heavy cream.
Olympic Asian pears and oriental persimmons from Falcon Ridge Farm – The Westminster farm grows the crisp, juicy Olympic Asian pears that originate from Korea, as well as Oriental persimmons, which are high in fiber and vitamins A and C, in the fall. Cost to be determined.
Olney Pumpkin Eggnog from Twin Valley Distillersand Gregarious Gin from MISCellaneous Distillery – Rockville-based Twin Valley Distillers makes its pumpkin eggnog with whiskey, rum, pumpkin and pumpkin spice, while Mt. Airy-based MISCellaneous Distillery makes its gin from a molasses base and distills it with vapor-infused botanicals to give it a citrus taste. $25 per 750-milliliter bottle of eggnog, $45 per 750-milliliter bottle of gin.