The Laurel Farmer's Market and Bazaar, which is held every Thursday, is now open for the 2015 season. (Andrew Michaels and Jon Sham/Baltimore Sun video)
Every Thursday, Laurel farmers and craftsman share fresh produce and handmade products with shoppers during the Laurel Farmers Market and Bazaar on Main Street.
Between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., canopies cover the grassy nook along 378 Main St., where vendors' display tables are filled with freshly grown fruits and vegetables and handcrafted jewelry. Informational booths of businesses are also set up, ranging from Sunflower Wellness and Massage to Kitchen Saver Custom Cabinet Renewal.
Sponsored by the Laurel Board of Trade, administrative coordinator Maureen Rogers said the farmers market brings a refreshing quality to local residents through the end of October.
"Produce-wise, it's so nice just to be able to walk down the street and get produce that's been pulled that morning from the farmer the night before and different varieties, too," Rogers said. "There's just something different about a local farm raising their vegetables and fruits."
According to Greensboro farmer Ed Fountain, 66, there's nothing better than fresh produce. Fountain said he comes from a family of farmers, who have been growing crops on the Eastern Shore since 1661.
"[Our farm] is probably one of the oldest farms in Maryland," Fountain said. "I've lived there since 1950 and bought it from my father in 2000."
Offering tomatoes, potatoes, squash, peppers, radishes and broccoli, Fountain joined the Laurel Farmers Market roughly 15 years ago, enjoying the new and old faces of clientele every year. To no surprise, Fountain said the farm's sweet corn continues to be "a real draw."
"If you can't bring them good corn, don't bring them no corn," he laughed. "You shoot yourself squarely in the foot if you bring somebody bad corn. It's like feeding them pink chicken. You don't do it."
It's produce like Fountain's that brings Annapolis resident Thad Ulrich to Laurel.
"The price of this farmers market is much better than the Annapolis farmers market," Ulrich said. "It's substantially cheaper and the quality of the produce is just the same if not better."
As an employee of PNC Bank, Ulrich said he works out of Baltimore and Laurel but is sure to work in the latter on Thursdays.
"It gets people out on Main Street for one thing," Ulrich said. "I'd be sitting in my office if I didn't work down here. … It brings people in and gets people out on the street."
New to the farmers market this year, Laurel resident Barbara Davis of B4B Designs sells beaded bracelets that are custom made for men and woman of all ages. Using stretch cord, Davis said she orders a variety of colored beads and charms to make her jewelry, including prayer, birth month and holiday bracelets.
"I think it's a plus that they do have crafts here," Davis said. "It gives people who aren't able to travel an opportunity to see or purchase some things that they don't normally see or purchase during the week."
Davis said the farmers market also creates a sense of family among its vendors.
"It's been a positive experience just to see what everybody else does and just, sort of, get to know and become family because for the next four months I would say we're all going to be here together, so that's a positive thing," Davis said.
"It allows people to come and just kind of hang out for a while, talk with the locals of Laurel, get some food and swap stories," Rogers said. "It's just a good place, informal, for people to come together and see what's available and around. A lot of networking goes on, too."
Although this year's farmers market is just getting started, Rogers said she sees vendor and attendance numbers on the rise.
"I think it's improved each year and I'm hoping that we'll even have more attendance this year," she said. "My biggest goal is to increase attendance and to increase the vendors, so that when you look over there, it's just packed full of canopies."