While restaurants and other food service establishments around the country have suffered major setbacks since the start of the pandemic, regional farmers’ markets have experienced a sharp rise in business. That’s largely due to operating outdoors, offering fresh produce and having a shorter food supply chain for products, according to health experts.
Organizers of the Pikesville Farmers Market hope that trend will continue as they plan to reopen their annual gathering of local vendors on Tuesday, June 2, in the front parking lot of the Pomona Square shopping center, 1700 Reisterstown Rd., a block south of exit 20 of I-695.
Sponsored by the Pikesville-Owings Mills Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Baltimore County Department of Planning and their corporate partners, the market — which originally was scheduled to open this month — will feature more than 20 regional vendors, including a pair of local farmers, Hillside Meadows Farm of Glenville, Pa., and McCleaf’s Orchard of Biglerville, Pa.
Operating hours for the market are from 2-6 p.m. on Tuesdays through Oct. 26. The market will feature fresh produce, meats, desserts, beverages, jewelry, gifts, professional services and more.
Besides Jmore, vendors will include Boordy Vineyards, the Mondel Broad Bakery, Tovavi Falafel, FeedingUKosher, the Baltimore Dog Bakery, Max & Steven’s CBD oil, Great Shoals Winery, Lil Ria’s Natural Soaps, Pat’s: King of Pickles, the Zoetic Wellness Center and Print 27, a company that makes custom-printed promotional products
Because of concerns about the transmission of COVID-19, organizers say there will be no food samples offered at the market this season.
Vendors are being asked to take precautions to maintain the highest standards of sanitation and food safety, including the regular usage of hand sanitizer, the wearing of gloves and masks, and the arrangement for pre-orders with customers.
The market will operate under the social distancing and safety guidelines issued by the Maryland Farmers Market Association.
Vendors and customers will be asked to regularly use hand sanitizer, maintain six feet of distance from one another at all times, enter from the south sides of the marketplace only, and avoid physical contact with others.
In addition, organizers are asking senior citizens and those who are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus to find others to shop for them, or to come to the market during its earliest hours.
“Our first priority is supporting a healthy community and slowing the transmission of COVID-19, while ensuring that our community has access to fresh local produce from our farmers,” said Beth Snyder Rheingold, president of the Pikesville-Owings Mills Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Suzanne Kassel, owner and operator of the Owings Mills-based Mondel Broad Bakery, said she’s thoroughly looking forward to returning to the Pikesville market for the seventh year in a row.
“Many of us lost a lot of business in the spring, so we’re all really looking forward to the opening,” she said. “It’s going to be a different kind of year. We won’t be able to try samples or hug each other or play with the kids. People will have to think a little differently. It’s not going to be the same kind of congregating at tables like we used to do.
“But this is the new normal, and hopefully people will get used to to doing things a little differently now and play by the rules,” she said. “I think people are tired of being shut in and they’re eager to get out. I know I’m looking forward to it.”
For information about the market, visit http://pomchamber.org.