By Sam Draddy
With spring here and summer fast approaching, College Park’s two farmers markets are looking forward to the coming months. After a year full of pandemic-related restrictions, vendors and shoppers are hoping for a shopping season with fewer worries.
The College Park Farmer’s Market at Paint Branch Parkway (CPFMPBP) features vendors from Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. Phil Miller, of Miller Farms, in Clinton, is a regular; he has been pitching his tent at the market since it started in 1979. Miller Farms’ produce is a mainstay of the market, and their handmade ice cream is a stellar treat.
This year, Walk A Mile Flower & Herb Farm, of Bowie, is also at the market, selling oregano, curry, sage, fresh flowers and more.
Robyn Gaston, who volunteers to help organize the CPFMPBP, says that farmers markets are vital to independent vendors. She speaks from personal experience, as she is also a vendor at the market, selling for her own business, 3 Peas Handmade Soap.
“A lot of vendors depend on events like this for their businesses, including myself,” said Gaston. “If it’s a way for people to pay their bills, it is significantly important that … [the market] happens every year.” This is Gatson’s fourth season volunteering at the market; she coordinates all of the other vendors who participate.
Kute n Sweet Treats Gift Shop owner Tonya Hayes is at the market for a second year. Her shop sells party decorations and favors to make any celebration fun and festive. After last year’s challenges, Hayes is optimistic about being back.
“Since a lot of people have been vaccinated this year, I would expect there to be a lot more traffic,” she said. “It’s an awesome market, everyone’s friendly, and I really enjoyed myself. That’s why I am going back this year.”
Hollywood Farmers Market (HFM), located in the Hollywood Shopping Center, on Rhode Island Avenue, is “patiently waiting for permitting approval to open,” according to a post on their Facebook page. Hollywood Farmers Market welcomes community groups and local business owners to the market, in addition to vendors, to connect with shoppers.
Members of the College Park City Council see farmers markets as essential to the community, especially given the challenges of the pandemic. Councilmember Kate Kennedy (District 1) shops regularly at the Hollywood Farmers Market, where she is always eager to meet other residents.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity to hang out with people. It is going to be one of those places where people can gather safely outside,” said Kennedy. “The idea that you are able to get food that is locally grown is important to me and to many others in the community as well.”
At an April 6 meeting, the College Park City Council approved a memorandum of understanding that would expand the city’s support of HFM, including providing assistance with licensing, insurance and permitting.
The CPFMPBP is open Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. until November 20; if you have questions about the market, email email@example.com. The Hollywood Farmers Market hopes to reopen soon, with Saturday hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. To receive the Hollywood Farmers Market’s newsletter, email firstname.lastname@example.org.