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At Riverdale Park Market, Food 'Doesn't Have a Passport'

Jenny Koschalk, with children Bella and Elliot, buys basil from Suzanne Montie of Red Chimney Flower Farm at the Riverdale Park Farmers Market.
Jenny Koschalk, with children Bella and Elliot, buys basil from Suzanne Montie of Red Chimney Flower Farm at the Riverdale Park Farmers Market. (By Brenda Ahearn -- The Gazette)

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By Maya T. Prabhu
Gazette Staff Writer
Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Riverdale Park Farmers Market was founded to provide an outlet for healthy food and a place to meet people. Ten years later, it remains successful on both counts, sellers and residents say.

"There's a group of the same people who come every week, and also there are new people who come every week," said Roland Walker, who has shopped at the market since he moved to town about seven years ago. "I've seen people introduced to each other for the first time here and then have seen their kids playing together a few weeks later."

The market, which is set up at the MARC rail station on Queensbury Road, celebrates its anniversary today with a roster of special events that include face painting, a soccer shootout, waiter races, live jazz, a moon bounce and a raffle.

Choosing from an array of about 15 vendors, some local and some from as far away as Pennsylvania, about 400 people wander through the Riverdale Park Farmers Market from 3 to 7 p.m. every Thursday from May 17 to Nov. 1. Only vendors who produce what they sell may participate.

The market receives $1,500 from the state-funded Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission for marketing and outreach and about $4,000 from the town, said Riverdale Park Council member Alice Ewen Walker (Ward 1), Roland Walker's wife, who has volunteered with the market since 2001.

Alan Thompson, a 12-year resident of Riverdale Park, said either he or his wife has attended the market every Thursday since it began.

"There's something different every week. There's always some new fabulous food of some sort," he said. "It's also nice to know who's growing your food."

Riverdale Park resident Miles Spicer enjoys being able to buy fresh food from the market each week.

"Eating food that doesn't have a passport is very important," he said.

Dan and Susan Gragan, co-owners of D&S Farm in Charlotte Hall, have sold their fruits and vegetables at the market since it opened. Susan Gragan said she was attracted because both the state and the town of Riverdale Park support it.

"They had good backing and they had a community-based market," she said. "So this market provided more opportunities."


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