Saturday was the “soft” opening for the Fells Point Farmers’ Market. Without much fanfare, about 20 vendors set up produce and variety stalls at the square on South Broadway and Thames St.
The weather cooperated, and the sun on the harbor made me fantasize about vessels filled with goods from foreign ports – a time when everyone was a locavore and imports were a rare treat.
The engraved numbers on the curb are 200-year-old reminders of the early markets held at the square, with each farmer drawing a horse and wagon to their designated number. These days, Baltimore celebrates the return of the locavore tradition at numerous farmers markets. This one has been organized by Merritt Dworkin and sponsored by Fells Point Main Street whose president, Juliette Richter, was very much in attendance. Both women did a lot of meeting and greeting, assuring everyone that their presence was appreciated.
Fells Point Farmers’ Market
Every Saturday through Nov. 12
7:30 – 11.30 AM
Foot of Broadway, Fells Point
At the start of my visit, Ben Wenk, a grower/marketer who has studied agronomy at Penn State, kindly explained to me the storage of apples. Seems I had it wrong. If you want to keep them fresh for several weeks, refrigerate them in a sealed plastic (PVC FREE) bag in the coldest part of the refrigerator.
The Wenks have been farming and tending to their apple orchards since the 19th century. That’s seven generations! One of their sustainable farming tools are insects called lacewings that destroy aphids and other crop pests. Fascinating!
So while the crops are not entirely organic, minimally invasive techniques are used to keep them healthy. Like many vendors at the Fells Point Market, the Wenks are a certified Food Alliance Producer.
Patty and Robert Audia grow berries and greens as well as radishes, snap peas and baby turnips the size of radishes. Audia Farms also preserves sweet and savory jams and jellies as well as blackberry and raspberry syrup.
Paul and Emma Sorenson of Gravel Springs Farm in Union Bridge have spent their first full year as organic farmers and this is their first market. The farm has been in Emma’s family for decades. After some time wearing a suit on Capitol Hill, Paul Sorenson decided working this farm would be better. I gather it has been.
Greens, both red and green actually, are in abundance. These berries, and tomatoes, are what they are concentrating on now. You can also place orders for their “pasture chickens.” Next week they will have on hand brown eggs from their organic chickens.
Shopping at the stand was Sommer Gentry, a Brewers Hill resident and very enthusiastic.
“I am so glad the market is here,” she said. “Everything looks so delicious, and it all has such a good feeling.”
I agree with her.
At Banner Bee Honey, Andrea Langworthy and her family are beekeepers.
“It was a rough winter, we lost some bees, but not one hive collapsed,” she told me. Her husband Chet’s father was the original beekeeper, and since his passing they have been keeping the tradition. The hives are in Montgomery, Frederick and Howard counties. Langworthy describes honey the way a lot of people describe wine.
“Each nectar has its own aroma and flavor,” she said.
Attractively jarred honeys in various sizes, candles balms and even bee pollen are available. The candles are hand dipped and a 12-inch candle will burn eight hours, with no smoke or drips.
(Unless they are in a draft and then you are on your own. There are some people say that eating local raw honey will give you an immunity to local allergies, but you are on your own with that as well.)
The honey is delicious. They also make cake pops with a honey-based icing, which were very tempting. I will have to go back to try one.
Debra Stange at ZephyrScent uses herbs spices and natural oils to make various soaps, moisturizers and lotions, as well as shaving soap and after shave balm. She only tests on friends and family.
Melanie Breeden and Lauren Milburn are the owners of Chesapeake Cupcake, which has been in business for all of two months. I gather Melanie Breeden is the chief baker at the commercial kitchen that they have rented. At the moment you can order cupcakes online and they will deliver. They also plan on being at the Fells Point Market until the final day of the market.
Almond Joy Cupcakes and Ethiopian Blend Coffee
Their cupcakes are adorable and follow the candy ingredient trends of popular ice creams. In addition to chocolate and vanilla, there are peanut butter, Twix, Almond Joy and Butterfinger. The packaging is user-friendly. An individual cupcake is presented in a hard plastic jewel case, and the others in sets of four that you can mix or match in bakery boxes with cake holders set in the bottom. They don’t want you to worry about getting them home in good shape.
Teresa Pessaro is the owner/baker of Goody, Goody Gumdrops – Vegan Goodies. I am a fan of the oatmeal cookie creamless sandwich – it’s crisp, crunchy sweet and oatmealy. The brownies, however, seemed to be the crowd favorite.
Now for the coffee. Homeland Organic is an independent fair-trade and organic coffee micro-roaster located in Perry Hall. They will be at the Fells Point Market for the season. I was pleasantly surprised.
In full disclosure mode, I will say I pretty much only drink espresso and espresso-based drinks such as lattes. (There are various reasons for this, in addition to personal preference, and I will do a coffee column some time soon.) I have tasted coffee everywhere and can certainly tell if it is tasty or not.
The Ethiopian Blend I had at the market was very flavorful and rich. There are two brands that Mark Patro and his colleague Jason Powers blend, roast, sometimes grind and market. The Homeland is 100% organic and the Pink House is 80% organic with a 20% of blender’s choice. The de-caf is pre-blended and water treated without chemicals.
One dollar of every pound bag of Pink House blend sold goes to supporting breast cancer research. A large assortment of Homeland Organic coffee is available at Nature’s Fresh in White Marsh, if you are in the neighborhood.
The Fells Point Farmers Market will be open every Saturday from 7:30 AM until 11:30 AM until November 12. Parking is free at most meters until 10:00 AM.