Hampstead Targeted For Farmers Market

Producers Seek Use Of School Parking Lot

March 29, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

HAMPSTEAD — Fresh fruits and vegetables will be easy pickings this summer if local producers get permission to open a farmers market here.

Producers have asked the county Board of Education for its approval to establish a market on Saturday mornings -- from June to October -- at the old Hampstead Elementary School parking lot, organizer Diane W. Hale said.

Vernon Smith, director of school support services, said he needs more information about insurance for the market, but foresees no problem with approving the plan.

Interested producers will meet to discuss the market from 7 to 9 p.m. April 9 in Conference Room E at the Agriculture Center in Westminster.

If established, the market would be the county's third. Other markets are in Westminster at the FarmMuseum and in Eldersburg on a lot adjacent to the public library.

"I think there's room for three, because each one has a different character," said Hale, who grows organic fruit, vegetables and herbs and raises lamb on her family's farm here.

Lila C. Weaver of Finksburg, who was the South Carroll market manager last year, said a Hampstead market is "a great idea."

Fresh foods are in demand in the summer, and Hampstead is a growing area, she noted.

"I wish them the very best. It could be a very viable thing," Weaver said.

The Delmarva Farmer reported last week that 11 new farmers markets opened in Maryland since 1989 and had sales of $1.1 million in 1991.

Hampstead Town Council member and business owner Jackie Hyatt said a farmersmarket would help draw more people to the downtown area.

The old school is off Main Street behind the War Memorial Park.

Hale said organizers hope to start with at least 10 producers. She is working with Extension Agent Tom Ford to organize the market, and stressed that produce will be fresh and locally grown.

"We won't sell bananas," she said. "You'll meet your neighbors."

In addition to produce, dried flowers, lamb and fish may be for sale, she said, adding that crafts will not be sold.

A market manager will be chosen to overseethe operation and be responsible for enforcing rules, including a ban on price gouging, Hale said.

"We want to have a quality product," she said.

Organizers tentatively plan to open the market from 8 to 11 a.m. on Saturdays, from June 27 to Oct. 3, Hale said.

The rental price for a stall at the market has not been set, she said. If the venture is profitable, organizers would like to use money for advertising and for improvements to the school site, she said.

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