This Saturday, Pike Central Farm Market opens for the 2018 season! Over thirty vendors will be at the market – located at the Pike & Rose shopping complex in the parking lot beside REI – every Saturday through November from 9am – 1:30pm.
The following week – on Saturday, May 5 – is the grand opening of our fourth market, Central Farm Market at Westfield Montgomery. The market is located at the corner of Westlake Drive and Westlake Terrace in Bethesda, and is also open weekly from 9am – 1:30pm. Over three dozen vendors, many of them familiar faces as well as a few new farmers to the Central Farm Markets family, are in the lineup including Hog Haven Farm and McCleaf’s Orchard.
Although the market locations are less than five miles apart, consider that over 200,000 people live in the surrounding communities. As the local food/farm-to-table movement continues to grow, the ability to serve farmers market customers at a single location becomes challenging for even the most experienced market system.
According to USDA statistics, the number of farmers markets increased 2.3% between 2015 and 2016. The Sustainable Food Trust reported an overall 15% increase in crops grown specifically for direct-to-consumer sales which they defined as through farmers markets and CSAs (community supported agriculture).
Let’s examine some of the advantages for both customers and vendors for markets in planned communities.
Both Pike & Rose and Westfield developers have planned their communities as walkable, bike-able, livable areas to offer residents easy access to the facets most important to their lifestyles. Recognizing the demand for regional agricultural products, the developers included locales for farmers markets in their master plans. The demand is evident by the continuing growth of both existing vendors as well as new and beginning producers.
A dedicated space within a community for weekly markets also creates an opportunity where neighbors can gather and socialize in addition to shopping. Live music, children’s programs, chef demos, prepared food and seating areas are features of both markets designed to add more to your Saturdays.
This, by far, has always been the biggest complaint I’ve encountered from customers when it comes to urban markets. Both locations offer plenty of free parking. At Pike & Rose there is free 2-hour on-site parking in the garages and free parking available at 5800 Montrose Road – only a four-minute walk to the market.
If you’ve purchased far more than you can carry back to your vehicle, leave it with the market concierge at the information tent to be loaded into your car as you exit the market venue.
When a market system opens a new location, it allows many of the existing vendors to expand their businesses. Visit multiple Central Farm Markets locations and you’ll see many of the same vendors. Having two markets near each other in densely populated regions is a vendor’s dream as it allows many to use a common delivery vehicle to attend both markets. This reduces overall operating costs as well as the carbon footprint. After all, the rise of local foods promoted good ecology…right?
According to the Farmers Market Coalition, the local and regional produce you’ll find at farmers’ markets travels about twenty-seven times less distance than the produce found at grocery stores, much of it being picked and packed with a day of purchase. Now that’s fresh!