The Farm Team

Fresh produce is the big hit every Sunday at the Baltimore Farmers' Market. FOCUS ON MARKET DAY

August 08, 1999|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,Sun Staff

The underside of a freeway ramp doesn't seem the most likely spot for a colorful profusion of flowers, fruits, vegetables and crafts, but the Baltimore Farmers' Market flourishes there every Sunday morning from June until December.

Steamy or sleety, the day begins early. Vendors arrive at Saratoga and Holliday streets under the Jones Falls Expressway as early as 4:30 a.m. or 5 a.m. to set up for the 8 a.m. opening. Preparations at home begin even earlier.

"We start picking on Friday and pick all day Saturday," says Richard Seletzky, who, with his son Ian, sells vegetables and flowers. They offer cranberry beans, Roma tomatoes, red, white and Yukon gold potatoes, among other things, all grown on land they own or rent in Carroll County.

Pam Pahl married into farming -- her husband, Leslie, is a fifth-generation farmer -- and now the Pahls and their four children all work at the market.

They grow "all kinds" of vegetables on their farm in Granite, Pam Pahl says, and also sell cut flowers, peaches and plums and four different colors of raspberries (red, black, yellow and purple).

"It's a good way to sell your produce, and it's fun," Pahl says. "We both enjoy talking to people and selling right to the people" who will be using the food.

People who come for the fresh vegetables may end up taking home other things as well: There are baked goods, cheese, cured meats, pit beef, French bread and all kinds of crafts.

But it's the freshness and variety of the edibles that draw more than 5,000 visitors each Sunday to the market, which began in 1977 at Market Place and moved to its current home in 1985.

George Jackson reels off the list of things he and his wife, Alvina, bring from Millers, Md.: "Tomatoes, corn, string beans, pumpkins, nine different kinds of squashes -- and last year we brought hay for the city's reindeer."

"You meet all kinds of people," Alvina Jackson says, "and you get to tell people how to cook things and what to look for. It's an interesting way of life."

By noon, the crowds are gone and the 50 or so vendors are packing up and heading home, many already planning what they'll bring next week.

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