The allure of farmers markets is simple: They make people feel good physically, economically and socially. Locally grown foods are fresher and more nutritious as well as more affordable than those sold in grocery stores, according to the Farmers Market Coalition.
Consumers fuel the regional agricultural economy and help preserve farmlands.
And selling local foods at these markets is better for the environment, because it takes less energy to transport these items. But farmers markets are also welcoming places. Parents tenderly describe the many foods to inquisitive children. Sellers passionately explain how their foods are grown to engaged buyers. And friends grab food for their lunch or dinner and discuss the many unique items sold there.
With spring comes the return of several markets with their cornucopias of seasonal fruits and vegetables, meats, honey,
dairy and flowers to Charles County. The Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission listed the following markets open this year:
• La Plata Farmers Market. Wednesdays.
8 a.m.-6 p.m. Through late October.
Behind the Charles County Courthouse in the parking lot on the north side of Talbot Street.
• La Plata Farmers Market. Saturdays.
8 a.m.-3 p.m. Through late October.
Behind the Charles County Courthouse in the parking lot on the south side of Talbot Street
• Waldorf Farmers Market. Saturdays.
9 a.m.-1 p.m. Through late November.
10400 O’Donnell Place, Waldorf.
For consumers seeking meats without additives and byproducts, SMADC recommends that they purchase meats with the Southern Maryland Meats logo. The commission provided the following farms where locally grown meat can be bought by appointment only:
• Fisher Farm.
10955 Earnshaw Lane, La Plata.
• Hancock Farm Service.
10415 Hancock Farm Place, La Plata
• Newport Valley Farm.
9670 Bowling Drive, Charlotte Hall.
• River Creek Farm.
13790 River Road, Newbury.
• Zekiah Farm.
Beef, goat, lamb, pork, rabbit, chicken and turkey.
5235 Bryantown Road, Waldorf.
Because not everyone can visit markets every week, the challenge becomes how to store these food purchases. The Maryland Farmers Market Association has • Beverages, fruits and other not easily perishable foods should be placed on the top shelf.
• The second shelf is for foods that spoil quickly and dairy, except for cheese.
• Vegetables, cheese and meats go on the bottom shelf or top drawer.
These items should be kept apart from each other to avoid cross contamination.
Farmers markets not only support the local economy but also create healthy communities. For more information,
Residents can stock up delicious locally grown food at farmers markets in Charles County. Some of the vegetables and fruits in season in May and June are asparagus, beets, onions, blueberries, rhubarb and strawberries. Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission’s harvest guide can be found
by Therese Umerlik | Editor