It’s that time of year! The Baltimore City Farmer’s Sunday Market opens on April 6th and will operate every Sunday in 2014 through December 21st. The Baltimore Farmers’ Market is the largest market in Maryland and stretches for blocks under the Jones Falls Expressway near the intersection of Holliday and Saratoga (the market been at the current site since 1985).
The market starts this year in early April and runs this year through Dec 20th and is open from 7 am to 12 noon. The market routinely attracts 5,000 – 8,000+ people (FYI – the biggest attendance day of the year is the Sunday just before Thanksgiving!) The list of participating suppliers from across the wide metropolitan Baltimore area is amazing!
The farmers’ market is real and stimulating in a way that a lot of other erstwhile “events” just try to emulate. If you do all your food shopping at big chain supermarkets or have been to too many fairs in the city with the same old food stands, you’ll be amazed at what an exciting and amazing experience that the Baltimore Farmers Market has to offer! So why are all these folks here?
Well, the obvious attraction is locally grown produce and good prices. The produce boggles the mind with a multitude of colors and exotic varieties that you just don’t see at supermarkets (Yup, not even at Wegman’s!). And it’s fresh, local produce that in many cases was grown within an hour’s drive or less of the market. There are locally grown, grass-fed cuts of beef, lamb and even bison (from farms from the nearby counties!)
From every angle, there are things that attract your eyes (and whets your appetite!): locally made goat cheese, honey as well as pollen from the legs of bees, pickles in flavors you never imagined, ginger roots (Yes, grown in Baltimore county!), beans that have been pre-shucked ready to cook and eat, clusters of exotic mushrooms, apple varieties that redefine what apples are about, strangely shaped and colored other-worldly “heirloom” tomatoes (The free samples turn me into a fan!). And the bargains! How about a basket of red, yellow, orange and purple golf ball sized peppers for a $1 or a basket of “baby” eggplant for a $1?
Does looking at all of this food make you hungry and wishing for some food to eat NOW? Not to worry! There are vendors offering made-to-order omelets, freshly brewed coffee, pit beef sandwiches (carved in front of you!), awesomely good thai-influenced falafel sandwiches (I tried ‘em, I loved ‘em!), Caribbean curries, Cajun soups and stuff and more!
Not turned on by food? How about crafts, incredible cut flowers or live plants? Or how about a bazaar section offering different “stuff” (e.g., oriental rugs, art, and what-nots)?
Or art work? (The city invited artists to decorate the huge thick columns supporting the JFX with colorful and eye-catching paintings.)
Then there are the people-watching opportunities! The diverse collection of folks remind me of the early “City Fair” festivals on Pratt street from 25+ years ago. This
“Newbie” advice: To avoid getting hyper with parking, grab a spot a few blocks away and enjoy walking through unfamiliar parts of the city. It’s also smart to go early – you’ll be amazed at how many people are there when the markets opens at 7 am! If you’re a camera buff, take your camera and take advantage of all the photo opps! Plastic bags filled with all of your finds can start hurting your hand – bring a bag with wide handles (e.g., like one of those $1 cloth “green” bags you can get now at supermarkets)! There are not a lot of places to sit down – be prepared to walk and wear comfortable footwear.