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To Market, to Market: Greenbelt Charm

Clever packaging from Thanksgiving Farm in Adamstown, Md.; Rodney Russell with a scoop of peach amaretto ice cream from Simple Pleasures. (Bonnie Benwick -- The Washington Post)

On a warm, slightly humid July morning, the pleasures of the Greenbelt farmers market will hit you as soon as you open the car door. Yesterday, those were the smell of sweet peppers and the sound of delighted youngsters getting the chance to feed wee baby goats.

This is the market’s second year, but it looks well entrenched. It’s situated in the west parking lot of the Roosevelt Center, a communal, multi-use area; a short walk for much of the immediate neighborhood. It’s also steps away from the New Deal Cafe (with just-added breakfast service) and the Greenbelt Consumer Co-op grocery, which features some of the market’s vendors.

About 17 of the market’s 19 producers were on hand yesterday between its reasonable Sunday hours of 10 to 2. There’s a definite Birkenstock vibe. Market master Nancy Solomon says Greenbelt likes to offer regular kid-friendly programs, such as those very cute baby goats from Unicorn Farms.

Signs of a nice vibe. (Bonnie Benwick -- The Washington Post)

Among the deals I couldn’t pass up: frozen goat sausage ($8.99 per pound) from Many Rocks Farm in Washington County, Md.; green tomatoes ($2.49 per pound) from Shlagel Farms of Waldorf; baby yellow squash (2 for $1) and sweet peppers (3 for $1) from Friendly Hall Farm in St. Mary's County; and cabbage sprouts ($2 per pound) from Thanksgiving Farm in Adamstown, Md.

Terri and Rodney Russell are back this year, from Simple Pleasures Ice Cafe in Bowie. They had turned the peaches they bought from Shlagel Farms the week before into peach amaretto ice cream ($3 single scoop or cone), which was richly textured and a little chewy with visible bits of the fruit. Same goes for the Russells' cantaloupe ice cream, also from Shlagel Farms fruit and also very rich-tasting. It was tough to choose from among the other daily specials: cantaloupe coconut, lemon ginger, mango Italian ice, banana pudding, vanilla, chocolate Oreo mint, stracciatella, vanilla and chocolate. But that’s just the kind of challenge I never shy away from.

-- Bonnie Benwick

P.S.: Last week I wailed about the whereabouts of tasty tomatoes, but now I know where they are! Baltimore.

I had to make an early dropoff at BWI, so I pressed on to the downtown farmers market, at Holliday and Saratoga streets under the Jones Falls Expressway viaduct (I-83). I was rewarded with a showstopping display: dozens of heirloom varieties as well as hardy hybrids simply labeled “Eastern Shore.” The guys from Browns Cove Farm in Essex, Md., were smart enough to label the distinct flavor profiles of their tomatoes and offer chunky samples on paper plates. Yesterday I had my first taste of Japanese Triple, a tomato that’s not too big and along the lines, tastewise, of a Cherokee Purple. I went back for seconds to the plate of Glowing Peach Fizz, a beautiful yellow variety with some pale pink streaks on top and bottom.

By The Food Section  |  July 27, 2009; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  To Market, To Market  | Tags: Bonnie Benwick, Greenbelt, farmers markets  
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I'm looking to drop by the stand on Leesburg Pike, just outside the Beltway. When I dropped by a few weeks ago, they expected tomatoes in late July. We've finally had some hot weather, so hopefully those delicious globes will be ready.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 27, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Great article... The Greenbelt market sounds fantastic! The first time I ever shopped at a farmers' market was in Burlington, VT in the 80's. Back then, I thought every town had a farmers' market. It's not until I moved that I found out it wasn't the case. It took some time, but finally almost every town in the US has one. I love seeing small farmers thriving and people enjoying shopping and spending time at their local markets. Not only do we all benefit from cooking with such fabulous fresh products, but we are regaining a sense of community.
I feel very privileged that I've been able to shop and eat this way for so many years... For me this has been a way of life - and what an delicious one it is! I just bought zucchini flowers at my farmers' market and made this recipe with them

Posted by: VivianeBauquetFarre | July 27, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

We are Greenbelt Farmers Market regulars -- the variety of produce and other goods is awesome and everyone is very friendly. Also check out the Lebanese cuisine at the New Deal Cafe -- it's delicious!

Posted by: junk8 | July 27, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

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