There’s an amazing number of Farmers’ Markets in and around Baltimore. If you haven’t been to one of these, summer is definitely a peak time (although surprisingly most operate at least through Thanksgiving and some operate year round!) The markets typically operate for limited hours on just one day a week but you can find one in operation on just about any day of the week within a 30 minute drive of downtown.
What you’ll find at these markets can surprise a first timer. In addition to seasonal produce (fresh fruit and veggies including pickles, heirloom tomatoes or mushroom varieties that you’ll never find at the super market), you’re likely to find people selling cut flowers, plants, bread and baked goods, cheeses, ready-to-eat stuff for your breakfast or lunch, honey and bee pollen, locally grown cuts of beef, lamb and even bison, seafood, flea market type stands and musicians (who hope that you’ll drop some money in their bucket!)
Produce availability changes with the season – June is the big month for local strawberries while July and August are peak times for most types of fruits while melons continue to be available in September and October which is best time for apples and pears.
The downtown Baltimore City Farmer’s Sunday Market , has been around since 1985 and it is one of the biggest farmers’ market in Maryland, and operates every Sunday morning from April thru December under the Jones Falls Expressway at Holliday & Saratoga streets from 7 am to around noon. I’ve been taken aback to arrive around 8 am expecting it to be empty and instead finding parking close by difficult to find and easily over 500+ people already shopping! I got in a chat with a man selling some very tasty sheep milk cheese (who knew???) from his farm out near Mt. Airy, MD and he said that the downtown market is so popular with local farmers that he had been on a “waiting list” for three years before he got his invite to participate (and even then on the fringe of all the stands!)
The “32nd Street” market, in the big parking lot at E. 32nd Street and Barclay on the edge of Charles Village, has been operating regularly since 1980 every Saturday morning year round from 7 am to noon and is the 2nd biggest farmer’s market in Baltimore. Other markets in the city include one at the Museum of Industry off Key Highway on Saturdays 9am to 1 pm, Cross Keys (off of Falls Road) on Tuesdays from 10 am to 2 pm and the Park Heights market in the Pimlico Race track parking lot on Wednesdays from 9:30 am to 2 pm.
In the Baltimore County, farmers markets include one in Catonsville on Wednesday from 10 am to 1 pm at 100 Bloomsbury Avenue, in Towson from 11 am to 3 pm at 17 Alleghany Avenue, in the Eastpoint Mall parking lot on Wednesdays from 10 am to 2 pm, at the Owings Mills Metro parking lot on Fridays from 4 pm – 7 pm, and in Pikesville at 1700 Reisterstown Road on Tuesdays from 2pm – 6pm.
Farmer Market “Newbie” advice: grab a parking spot where you can and enjoy walking through unfamiliar parts of the city (early morning is a good time for that!). You’ll be amazed at how many people are there when the markets opens at 7 am! Photo opps (of people or colorful stands) are abundant for camera buffs! Bring a bag with wide handles (e.g., like one of those $1 cloth “green” bags you can get now at supermarkets) to hold your purchases. You’ll be doing a lot of walking and there may not be a lot of places to sit down so make a point of wearing comfortable footwear.
What’s your favorite farmer’s market? What’s the most surprising thing you’ve bought (or at least seen…) at one?