Family business is growing at Knills' Farm Market


Knills' Farm Market is a growing family enterprise nourished on hard work and cooperation that has taken root in the heart of Mount Airy.

The market started three years ago with vegetable sales from a wooden cart along the driveway of the Knill farm, east of Route 27 across the road from Watkins Park. Business has grown each summer, enough to warrant a permanent location visible from Ridge Road and closer to Jim and Carol Knill's farm home. The market, which opened for the growing season June 30, is a joint venture of the Knills and Jim's father, Bill Knill.

Red and white signs along Ridge Road point the way to the farm market. A larger, professionally made sign is on order. Big green cabbages, cucumbers, white corn, cantaloupes in three sizes, yellow crookneck squash, zucchini, pattypan squash, peppers,

big red tomatoes and straw are available at the market. The tomatoes, cantaloupes and corn will come from the Eastern Shore until those crops are ready for picking locally.

Jim and Carol Knill's three sons -- J. W., 13, Danny, 11, and Brian, 8 -- help at the market and in growing and harvesting the crops.

"Everyone pitches in," Jim Knill said. "We pick fresh every day. What isn't sold goes to the family or is given to the cows."

Watermelons, eggplants, pumpkins, broccoli, cauliflower, ornamental gourds, decorative Indian corn, and lettuce will be offered later in the season. Mr. Knill said apples, peaches, and plums will be purchased to sell because "it's good to have a variety."

The market, which will be open through the end of October, is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. It is closed Mondays.

In addition to caring for the 3 1/2 -acre vegetable garden and the 18 acres of sweet corn, the Knills spend long days working their crop and beef operation. Their crops include soybeans and barley.

The Knills sold their dairy herd last year and enjoy the current summer schedule. Wake up time is at 5:30 a.m. instead of 4:30 a.m. for milking.

The once-busy dairy room serves as a wash room for the vegetables picked daily. The market surrounds the dairy on two sides, with tarps covering its wooden decking to protect the produce from the sun. The market's location is representative of the transition that the Knill family has made from dairy farming to produce growing.

"We were ready for a change. We're optimistic about the potential [for a vegetable operation] that is here and what we want it to develop into," Jim Knill said.

Repeat customers have helped the market to grow. The biggest challenge has been "learning the vegetable growing end of the business and to expand on that," Jim Knill said. "Corn is our biggest seller, there's no question about that."

The operation is more than just vegetables, noted Mr. Knill. The Knills planted strawberries this spring and plan to sell them next year.


Winfield Fire Department's volunteers will be serving generous portions of fund-raising fun at their 31st annual carnival Monday through July 15.

The week begins Monday with three popular draws -- the first of three ride-all-nights, the Miss Winfield Fire Prevention Contest and performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. by the '50s and '60s band, The Hubcaps.

Patrons are asked to bring lawn chairs so they can sit and enjoy the nightly entertainment, but are asked to leave their coolers and pets at home. Food will be available beginning at 5 p.m. and most carnival attractions will be open by 7 p.m., said Fire Department and auxiliary member Wanda Legore.

The ride-all-nights, which allow individuals to ride the rides all evening for one fee, continue Tuesday and Wednesday. Two-dollar discount coupons for the ride nights are available in advance at the firehouse.

The annual parade and music by Pure Country will provide the entertainment Tuesday. Branded will be featured on stage Wednesday.

On Thursday evening, performances of '50s and '60s music by the The Hot Rods will be featured at 7:30 p.m. The country band Maria Rose and Blue Horizon will perform Friday, followed by another country band, Pikesville Rye, Saturday. The grand drawings for raffle prizes will conclude the event Saturday night.

The biggest draw will be Winfield's great food, Mrs. Legore said. From funnel cakes to french fries, the carnival will offer a variety of vittles to its visitors.

"The food is where we make our money," Mrs. Legore said.

Volunteers will cook pit beef and ham, and make crab cakes each day. Soups and chicken pot pie will be made daily by Mary Guy Horton, a charter auxiliary member.

Platters will be served each evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Winfield's air-conditioned fire hall. The platters feature unlimited vegetables and a choice of one main dish from five -- hot roast beef sandwiches, crab cake sandwiches, fried chicken, fried shrimp or ham.


Mount Airy Branch Library invites the community to visit the library and take home a book or more for good.

The "Terrific Troll Book Fair" will take place at the Ridge Avenue library from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. New books suited for a variety of ages will be sold and the profits are earmarked for children's services of Carroll County Public Library.

Customers are welcome anytime during the fair.

Information: (301) 829-5290.

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