The Pikesville Farmers’ Market returned to Pomona Square early last month as prime produce season slowly but surely approaches. The market, which is operated by the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce, is a producer’s market, where members of the community can purchase products directly from the source, rather than through resellers.
According to Jessica Normington, the Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, it is one of the longest-running markets in the county; she doesn’t know exactly when it started, but the Chamber of Commerce has been running the weekly summer event for the past six years.
“We have had many variations of the market in the past, and this year, we have 26 vendors,” she said. “We are like any other farmers’ market, just on a smaller scale. You’ll find coffee, flowers, fruits and veggies, bagels and kosher food all here. We pride ourselves in that everything that anyone sells is all homegrown — the tried-and-true produce from certified organic vendors.”
The market is held weekly on Tuesday afternoons from 2 to 6 and will run through Oct. 31.
“Historically, this is one of the days that is not saturated by other markets,” said Normington. “For our vendors, this is their livelihood; they do markets seven days a week. If we were to switch it to any other day or time, many of the vendors wouldn’t be able to be here.”
One huge draw of the Pikesville market is that a majority of the vendors are local. Pam Pahl of Pahl’s Farm is a first-year vendor. With her farm just 8 miles down Old Court Road from Pomona Square, the Pikesville market is in an ideal location. Previously, she had a produce stand across from Sudbrook Magnet Middle School, but since that closed, many of her customers have followed her to the new location, where she sells homegrown flowers and plants.
A number of kosher pop-ups have found a home at the market as well. CWS Meats, which was featured in the JT on May 19 (“Kosher Evolution”), sells gourmet kosher sandwiches. And Tova Chansky, a longtime teacher who decided two years ago that she needed a change, runs Tovavi Falafel (with her son Avi), which offers freshly made falafel.
For those who do not keep kosher, Renee Carter’s business, Your Traveling Chef, is at Pomona Square every Tuesday with new specials in addition to its regular menu.
“Business is doing very well this year,” said Carter. “It’s nonstop from the time I get here, and it is a lot of fun as well.”
Then there’s Bettina Pressman, the self-described “jewelry farmer,” and full-time candle maker Dan Haggarty of DanCandle.
Still, the ultimate draw is the produce, and, according to many vendors, the number of attendees and the range of what is available at the market will only increase as the summer goes on. Hot-item produce such as tomatoes and corn do not ripen until later in the summer. But in the coming weeks, McCleaf’s Orchard, one of the biggest produce vendors at the market, will have upward of 20 different varieties of apples.
Jason Gross of Hillside Meadow Farm said that when it comes to produce, you can’t get it any fresher than at the market unless “you dig it from the ground with your own hands.” Gross, who’s been at the market for five years, said it’s attractive to many locals because “you get to meet the people who grow it.”
Pressman agreed: “You get to know the farmers personally, and you get to know where the produce is grown.”
“We have a steady flow of traffic every week,” Normington said. “And as we start picking up this month, produce vendors will triple in number.”
Normington added, “Why should people come out to see what the market has to offer? It’s fresh, it’s local and it’s supporting the community.”