Farmers markets provide great foods to buyers and help local growers stay strong, even as beach development encroaches on their fields.
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It is an overcast morning at the beach, but that doesn’t dim Susan Ryan’s mood. “I’m sitting under a 200-year-old willow tree,” says Ryan, co-owner of Good Earth Market in Clarksville. And she is sitting in front of a table groaning under the weight of verdant herbs and ripe vegetables, including aromatic rosemary, heirloom tomatoes and elongated Chinese eggplant.
Ryan is one of more than 30 vendors who are showcasing wares at the Historic Lewes Farmers’ Market, held each Saturday in season, primarily on the Lewes Historical Society’s grounds. Toting baskets and bags, customers stream among the old buildings, giving the event the ambiance of an 18th-century market day.
“There is a great energy here,” Ryan says. “We have loyal customers who come every week.” Gary and Carole Smith, who are watching a chef’s cooking demonstration, are two of those frequent buyers. The couple, who live just outside Lewes, are carrying a basket containing a basil plant, corn on the cob and freshly baked bread. “It’s best to come early,” Gary Smith confides. “Some people run out of stuff.”
The Historic Lewes Farmers’ Market in 2006 started what’s become a string of fresh produce venues along the coast. The Rehoboth Beach Farmers’ Market and the Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market both started in 2007, and the Fenwick Island Farmers’ Market debuted in 2008.
The Lewes market is the largest of the four. This season, Sharon Dardine, secretary for the market and a member of the board of directors, expects 36 vendors and an attendance of 1,800 to 2,000 each Saturday. The other markets are gaining steam. Rehoboth will have 25 vendors this year. Bethany and Fenwick—which this year is moving from Fridays to Mondays—each will have about 15. In Bethany’s case, space in the PNC parking lot at Garfield Parkway and Pennsylvania Avenue limits its capacity.
Page 2: Getting Fresh, continues...