Recalling 'Annarrannall Cantaloopes' ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

May 21, 1993

The Jones Station Farmers' Market in Severna Park is in its second season. From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday until the cold weather sets in, a number of farmers will sell locally grown fresh produce, vegetables and plants on the Park and Ride lot at Jones Station Road and Ritchie Highway.

This market, sponsored by the Maryland Department of Agriculture, is a wonderful reminder of past times when much of Anne Arundel County relied on farming for its income.

The soft, sandy soils of North County were famous for producing flavorful strawberries and juicy cantaloupes. The area had two other advantages: its proximity to the Baltimore marketplace and to an ample supply of mostly Polish immigrant labor, which was recruited in large numbers each season to work on the truck farms.

Although truck farms are rapidly becoming an endangered species in the county, they remain vivid in the memories of older people throughout the region. "Annarrannall cantaloopes" was a call that instantly brought eager customers to the clattering produce wagons of street arabbers in Baltimore City. Today, most of those colorful produce vendors are gone. So is much of the commercially grown local produce, because however sandy the soil, townhouses and condominiums, after all, don't give fruit.

The Ann Arrundell County Historical Society is doing important work to document the history of truck farming in the area. Society President Will Mumford has just completed a book about that form of agriculture.

The society has also acquired three original produce farm buildings -- a wooden summer kitchen, a tool shed and corn house -- which it hopes to restore at its Benson-Hammond House headquarters in Linthicum.

"Our goal is to interpret not only this site but truck farming in general in Anne Arundel County," says Beth Nowell, the society's executive director.

Last year, the organization sponsored a strawberry festival to commemorate truck farming traditions. The event was so successful it will be repeated on Saturday, June 12 at the Benson-Hammond House, at Aviation Boulevard and Andover Road. Attend the festival. It's a great way to support the society's work -- and get a taste of the county's juicy past.

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