A Day at the Market
Behind the scenes at the Bethesda Central Farm Market
At 9:40 a.m., the line at the Westmoreland Berry Farm stand is snaking through the parking lot and the golden raspberries are looking (and smelling) particularly enticing to one young patron. The wait at the popular Colonial Beach, Virginia, farm stand doesn’t deter shoppers such as Ursula and Mak Dehejia (both not pictured), who leave with two cartons of blueberries and a carton of blackberries. The Dehejias, who also purchase tomatoes, eggs and cheese from other stalls, once hired Rita’s Crepes (another vendor) to cater a family reunion at their Chevy Chase home. “Rain, shine or snow, we come here,” Ursula Dehejia says.
About 60 core vendors typically travel to the market from Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and the District. Woodbourne Creamery of Mt. Airy is the only Montgomery County farm at the market (though some small county-based businesses have booths there). Given the time and labor it takes to drive to a market and run a booth, the county’s small farmers are more apt to sell at on-farm markets and roadside stands and via community-supported agriculture (CSA) operations. The vendors are a close-knit group, handing out hugs and hellos before the market opens, and even teaming up on products. Painted Hand Farm owner Sandra Miller sold ramp sausage made with pork from her Mt. Holly Springs, Pennsylvania, farm and ramps from Young Harvests in Charles Town, West Virginia; Cipolla Rossa used the sausage on its pizzas. “That’s the collaboration that helps make markets successful,” Miller says.
The produce sold at the market comes from as far south as Virginia’s Northern Neck and as far north as central Pennsylvania. Market co-owners Mitch Berliner and Debbie Moser deliberately chose a geographically diverse group of vendors to ensure the longest possible produce season for shoppers. Strawberries are available from the end of April through mid-June; the first blueberries arrive at the end of May, and some varieties will continue to show up in the fall.