Getting ready for Thanksgiving — by the bushel

Farmers at stands under the JFX say the Sunday before Thanksgiving is their busiest

  • Jennifer Pahl tosses an empty bushel basket as she restocks the curly kale and collard greens at the stand for Pahl's Farm in Pikesville. Pahl says wet weather helped boost fall vegetables, and she was selling up to 250 bushels Sunday.
Jennifer Pahl tosses an empty bushel basket as she restocks… (Baltimore Sun photo by Amy…)
November 23, 2009|By Andrea F. Siegel | Baltimore Sun reporter

Greens and apples were sold by the bushel Sunday as shoppers stuffed their bags and carts at the Baltimore Farmers' Market in preparation for Thanksgiving.

"This is our best market of the year. Next week will probably be the worst - everybody will be too full," said Bryan Kerney, owner of Truck Patch Farms in Carroll and Frederick counties.

He'd sold more than 100 turkeys in less than 3 1/2 hours at the market, which is tucked under the Jones Falls Expressway.

By 11:30, he had sold out of Steve Anderson's favorite pork sausage, before the Catonsville man could get there to buy a few pounds of it.

Anderson was toting two trash bags that held a bushel each of kale and collards - enough for the first shift of the 50 to 60 guests expected at his home on Thursday. Fortunately, he said, Thanksgiving dinner in his extended family is a cooperative effort.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest day for the 32-year-old farmers' market, and with the economy sagging but the weather a warm, sunny treat, this Sunday kept the tradition alive.

"There were more people buying less volume," said Joe Bartenfelder, owner of Bartenfelder Farms in White Marsh, who's been selling there since the market began. He said he'd have sold out, just as he had at another market a day earlier, had he not optimistically piled extra produce into his trucks.

Wet weather helped boost fall vegetables, said Jennifer Pahl, of Pahl's Farm in Baltimore County, whose stand was rapidly going through 250 bushels of greens.

Regulars at the farmers' market said they were spending two to five times what they spend there on any other Sunday, as they filled bags with holiday staples: sweet potatoes, greens, potatoes, onions, fruit, broccoli, cheese and eggnog.

Shoppers lugged bins packed with produce and juggled bags on their arms as they bought and ate their way through a market that during some spurts, was elbow-to-elbow. Some came early and bleary-eyed, in jeans and sweaters. Others, all dressed up, came straight from church toward the end of the market's day.

Darryl Jurkiewicz pulled a big cooler behind him, filled with a bushel of apples, as he waited in line for lunch at Humpty Dumpty Omelets.

"We make apple crunch, it's my mom's recipe," the Canton resident said. Between Sunday afternoon and Thursday morning, he and his wife, Mary, will make enough apple crunch to serve 20 people and give each a container to take home, he said.

Deborah Kinsey of Pikesville had loaded her bags with her contribution to a big family dinner: Swiss chard, pickles, fish, nuts and salad fixings, before quickly adding a couple of pies from a stand where the desserts were vanishing fast.

By midmorning, Dangerously Delicious Pies owner Rodney Henry was telling customers that he had no pecan, cherry or caramel apple crumb pies left. They scooped up everything else, though he'd brought about three times the 40 pies he usually sells every Sunday. "I brought everything I could," he said.

Many sellers sold out of many items well before the typical closing time around noon.

"It went quick," said Will Hester, manager of the In a Pickle stand, who estimated that he sold at least 40 gallons of pickled goods. The half-sours were gone, the sauerkraut was long gone and barely a blob of horseradish was left.

For crafters, Sunday's market was a reminder that all that food has to be served in something and that the holiday gift season had begun.

"Big bowls were a big seller," said potter Nevan Wise, of Printemps Pottery in Annapolis.

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