Where to Get the Goods
Dawson's Market. Photo courtesy of Dawson's Market
When Mark Weiner was growing up in Garrett Park in the 1960s, he remembers his father buying produce from farms in Rockville and Silver Spring to stock their Garrett Park Market, currently the location of Black Market Bistro. Now, as produce buyer for Dawson’s Market in Rockville, “I’ve come full circle from when I was 4,” Weiner says.
While the number of close-in farms has declined drastically since he was a kid, Weiner still tries to buy as much Montgomery County produce as he can, including from Chocolates and Tomatoes Farm in Poolesville, Red Wiggler Community Farm in Germantown, The Farm at Our House in Brookeville and Passion to Seed Gardening in Gaithersburg. Dawson’s also works with Rock Terrace School in Rockville, a special-education school with a large garden that provides produce and herbs to the store.
Dawson’s stocks the area’s largest variety of MoCo produce. Other markets that buy from farmers in the county: Butchers Alley
in Bethesda carries Woodbourne Creamery milk, MOM’s Organic Market stocks salad greens from Potomac Valley Organics in Damascus and vegetables from Inverness Farm in Dickerson, Grosvenor Market in Rockville buys from Lewis Orchards in Dickerson, and Whole Foods Market gets produce periodically from Homestead Farm in Poolesville and Kingsbury’s Orchard in Dickerson. Cherry Glen goat cheese, made
in Boyds, is widely available.
Photo by Maire McArdle
Montgomery County has the most farmers markets in Maryland, according to the Maryland Farmers Market Association. (It’s tied with Baltimore City, which also has 19.)
Yet it’s hard to find produce that’s grown here, at least at farmers markets in the lower part of the county. “I can’t recall ever having a single Montgomery County [produce] farmer apply [for a space],” says Mitch Berliner, co-founder of Central Farm Markets, which includes the markets in Bethesda and Rockville.
Montgomery County farmers say it’s tough to break into local farmers markets, where larger operations have established legacy slots and return every year. Small operations may not have the time and labor required to drive to a market and man a booth. Plus, MoCo farmers can’t compete on price with other farm enterprises.
“Farming in Montgomery County is more expensive than farming in places like Pennsylvania—the taxes, the cost of land and services,” says Caroline Taylor, executive director of the Montgomery Countryside Alliance. “And by that alone, [Montgomery County] products may be a bit more expensive.”
There’s a higher level of participation at up-county markets, closer to where the farmers work and live. In fact, Taylor and small farmers in the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve launched the Common Ground Market in Beallsville last year, and it’s all farmers from MoCo.
For a list of farmers markets in the county, see montgomerycountymd.gov/agservices/agfarmersmarkets.html. For more information about the Common Ground Market, see thecommongroundmarket.com.