After years of talking about it, six months of planning it and the arduous process of completing the right Montgomery County permits to sanction it, friends Dave Ebner and Steve Thomas started their Little Falls Parkway Farm Market a month ago.
Their Farmers Market is in a “pilot stage” now — two overhead tarps and a few tables in the parking lot at the intersection of Little Falls Parkway and Arlington Road and as much produce as Thomas can pack in his truck from local farmers co-ops.
But they think it can grow, from two days to five or six days and perhaps with other locations. In a county flooded with Farmers Markets (23 according to an official county list) and an area with at least five “Farmers Markets” of different sizes and types, the apetite is not going away.
“There’s plenty of room for everybody,” Ebner said. “There’s plenty of room for educating people who still don’t know the difference between a fresh peach you can get locally and one you get in the store that is hit or miss really. We’re doing it for a love of the food as much as anything. And we want to spread the love.”
Ebner and Thomas’ enterprise, on Fridays from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., is wholly concentrated on produce grown at local farms. Others, such as the weekly Central Farmers Market in North Bethesda and Bethesda Elementary School, add to that formula with small restaurants or caterers selling foods including pasta, teas and gelato.
Like the Bethesda FRESHFARM Market, which is one of 11 Farmers Markets FRESHFARM runs in the region, the bigger markets turn into “events,” Thomas said.
The Rock Spring Park Owner Association Farmers Market, each Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., is another example. Property owners in the office buildings that line Rockledge and Rock Spring Drives got together and recruited a farm stand to sell local produce and invited a number of local caterers and food trucks to serve office workers lunch.
It’s an entirely different set-up and audience than what Ebner and Thomas have at Little Falls, but it proves the widespread interest in the Farmers Market concept.
“People around here really know their food,” Ebner said. “Our goal is not just to find whatever is available, but to find really good stuff, because we know that.”