Baltimore comes together at the Govanstowne Farmers' Market
The Govanstowne Farmers’ Market has been a summer staple for the York Road corridor since 2011. The Loyola community and people from the neighborhood alike come out to the market to enjoy local produce, live crabs, artisan-crafted goods, as well as a few surprise finds. This year’s market will be held every Wednesday this summer at 5104 York Road, June 5 through September 11, from 3-7 p.m. No event will be held on July 3.
“With only two commercial food farms in Baltimore County, residents have a tough time finding markets that sell fresh food and accept nutritional assistance for low-income families,” said Erin O’Keefe, director of one of the sponsors of the market, Loyola’s York Road Initiative (YRI). The mission of YRI is to engage neighborhoods surrounding the North Charles Street campus through educational and economic development.
Last year, vendors sold over $4,000 worth of fruits and vegetables through federal, state, and local benefits. Customers can use federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP); Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program; Farmers’ Market Nutritional Program (FMNP); Senior Farmers’ Market Nutritional Program (SFMNP) and Govans Ecumenical Development Corporation (GEDCO) coupons, to make purchases. This year, customers who utilize SNAP will be eligible to double their purchasing power through a grant called Bonus Bucks through MD Hunger Solutions. Cash and credit will also be accepted.
“The market gives the community access to affordable produce that would otherwise be too costly,” said O’Keefe. “And because of the extended season this year, I’m excited for undergraduate students to get a chance to visit.”
The program ran a pilot program for four weeks in 2011 and had an average of 300 shoppers per week.
“(Marketing Manager) Marie McSweeney spends a lot of time developing relationships with vendors to make sure everything runs smoothly,” said O’Keefe. “In turn, the vendors enjoy seeing repeat customers.”
This year, patrons can sample fresh produce from Real Food Farm, baked goods from Dangerously Delicious Pies, and crabs, a Maryland favorite, from the Crab Truck and Seafood Stop, along with many others.
One of this year’s vendors, Lynne Ferguson of Ferguson Family Farm, is ready for the season to get underway.
“I’m looking forward to reuniting with previous customers who became friends,” Ferguson said. “Our mission at the farm is to produce delicious, yet nutritious meats and I’m interested in teaching and continuing to learn about things that affect our health.”
Marie McSweeney anticipates another successful year.
McSweeney said, “I’m really excited for the market to begin and the potential it has to bring the Loyola and York Road communities together to create a stronger, better place for everyone to live, work, and play.”