Potatoes, peaches, baguettes, jams, fruit shakes and herbal dog biscuits are just a few of the items you can buy at the Farmers' Market at Riverdale Park Town Center every Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. through the end of October.
Located in the parking lot between book and antique stores and the MARC Train Station, the market bustles with customers going from booth to booth loading up plastic bags. This farmers' market is for producers only; in other words, you have to make it or grow it yourself to sell it. An average of 10 local vendors a week show up with their bounty.
Jerry Worrell from Dunkirk, Md., is one of the market's producers. He sells honey, jams, jellies, eggs and corn, as well as perennials for the garden. Worrell is also the market master. It's his responsibility to see that the vendors are in the right spots and he handles the logistics of guest vendors who are allowed to participate for a single week.
The Riverdale Boys and Girls Club was a guest vendor recently, holding a fund-raising bake sale with all kinds of cookies and brownies from their decorated red wagon.
Donna Almquist sells herbal dog biscuits along with sachets, catnip, herbal teas and body care products. "I call it an outdoor herb shop," she says.
Several of the vendors said they travel to a different farmers' market every day throughout the summer and fall. Mike Musashio of Musashio Produce Farms of Ridgely, Md., sells his blueberries, cantaloupes, peppers and black-eyed peas at the markets in Columbia, Takoma Park and Alexandria as well.
Sue Loomis of D&S Farm in Charlotte Hall, Md., does five markets a week with her raspberries, blackberries, pies and jams. Some weeks she has already sold out of pies by Thursday.
Refreshing fruit shakes are available at Lloyd Green's booth. For $2.50 you can choose strawberry, banana, mango, pineapple or the combination of flavors that people were enjoying one recent hot day.
The Farmers' Market has an average of 300 customers a week according to Gerard Kiernan, a former Riverdale Park council member and a volunteer for the town's information booth at the market. The town's mayor, Ann Ferguson, is also available every Thursday at the market.
"I like to be here so that people can pick up information and ask questions about the town," said the mayor. "I haven't missed a market."
The Farmers' Market in Riverdale Park began last year with a grant from the Maryland Department of Agriculture as a way of helping local farmers create an outlet for their produce. But it's also a great way of bringing people in the town together.
"I make it a point to introduce people to one another," Ferguson said, so that people can meet their neighbors and see them at least once week over the summer and fall.
At the town's information booth you can purchase a Riverdale Park Farmers' Market Cookbook ($7), which includes recipes from farmers, customers of the market and the mayor's recipe for cabbage and noodles.
The Farmers' Market at Riverdale Park Center, Queensbury Road at the MARC Train Station. Open Thursdays, 3-7 p.m. through the end of October. For information call the Riverdale Park Town Office at 301-927-6381.
CAPTION: At the Farmers' Market at Riverdale Park Center, from top: Tomatoes from Carolyn Kuezla's TGIF farm, herbal dog biscuits from Donna Almquist and chili peppers from Natalie Dobie's Groundswell Farm.