Farmers' market enters 28th year

The Baltimore Sun

The smell of strawberries was strong on Allegheny Avenue yesterday. Farther down the block, past the fresh bread, summer squash and cut flowers, a grill was fired up in preparation for the lunch crowd.

However, at the opening day of the Towson Farmers' Market, not all of the treats were for people.

Lisa Lindsey-Davis stood behind her table, selling all-natural dog biscuits in vegetable and peanut butter-oatmeal flavors.

"Its something good for the pups out there," she said.

Lindsey-Davis' stand was among the new sights at the Farmers' Market, which started its 28th season yesterday in the Baltimore County seat.

"I'm really excited to be here because everyone told me Towson is a great market," said Lindsey-Davis, who had never sold at a market before.

The self-described dog lover, who also sells Greek cookies, got the idea to make organic pet treats after wondering about some of the ingredients in the store brands she bought for her two dogs. Her vegetable cookies are made with carrots and celery, and all-natural peanut butter is used in the other flavor with molasses as a sweetener instead of sugar.

Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. was present to mark the opening of the market's season, which will run through Nov. 1. Todd Huff, president of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the market, told shoppers to eat something, spend money and enjoy themselves.

Nancy Hafford, executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, said: "This is really what Towson should be all the time."

Earlier this spring, not all the spots at the market were claimed, she said. But all spots are now taken. Of the 37 spaces in the market on Allegany Avenue between Washington Avenue and York Road, about 10 were given to new sellers.

TALMAR Gardens and Horticultural Center, located at Cromwell Valley Park, is one of the new vendors. The center teaches gardening, landscaping and other vocational skills to people with mental and physical disabilities. All of their cut flowers, hanging baskets and potted plants are organic and are produced by special-needs children and adults.

"Once they learn this, they can go out into the community and make a living off these skills," said Catherine Murphy, executive director of the program.

Starting in July, special-needs students from the Towson University Outreach Program will sell flowers at the market, she added.

The market now also features live music, and it will be used as an advertising venue for other events in Towson, such as concerts and bar and restaurant specials.

But even with new additions, the farmers' market is mostly about fruits and vegetables.

"We are local, and the people who buy from us are local." said George Breidenbaugh, who has sold produce from his Breidenbaugh Farms and Greenhouses at the market for about 20 years. Yesterday, the most popular items at his stand were zucchini, squash and strawberries.

"People in April and May ask, 'When does the market open?'" he said. "They can't wait for it to start."

About 1,500 people attended yesterday's opening, Hafford said.

"We usually always come out on Farmers' Market day," said Gloria Merani, a Towson resident who came with her grandson to buy a hanging basket for her front porch. "Its really just a nice place to come."

Jean Crunkleton, 76, said she had been coming to the market for many years.

"The flowers and the goodies and the vegetables, that's what does it for me," said the Towson resident, who particularly looks forward to the peaches.

Her daughter, Lucy Zorck, 48, added: "It's particularly nice for all the people who work in these office buildings."

Julianne Mui, 37, who works in the Towson Commons building, said she regularly shops and eats at the market with her co-workers.

"It's nice to be outside too, especially in the summer," she added.

The Towson Farmers' Market is open Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Nov. 1.

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