Washington County produce stands see increase in shoppers who want to buy from local farms

August 03, 2013|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • Barb Grossnickle fills boxes of fresh local Loring and Red Haven Peaches ready for sale at Ivy Hill Farm produce stand in Smtihsburg.
By Yvette May / Staff Photographer

Marie Carras was checking out the produce at The Green Bean produce stand along Jefferson Boulevard near Smithsburg Friday morning.

Carras, 61, said she shops at local produce stands to make up for what she does not grow in her own garden, and because “it supports the farm community, and it’s great for the environment, because it’s not being trucked somewhere.”

As the Myersville, Md., woman got in her car, she pointed out food purchases — including eggs and fruit — made at earlier stops.

Operating out of The Green Bean, farmers John and Lois Martin sell produce they raise on their Smithsburg area farms. On Friday, baskets brimming with potatoes and tomatoes were on display, as was corn and other items.

The vegetables are picked just hours before they are put out for sale, John Martin said.

“Our niche is selling fresh produce without chemical sprays being used, and we raise everything we sell, so everything is fresh,” he said.

John Martin, who said the family began selling produce from the stand last year, noted that sales have more than doubled this year.

Although The Green Bean is open more hours this year — Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — and sells a wider variety of products than in the past, Martin also attributed the increase to a growing desire among people to buy local products.

“There seems to be an increased interest, and people have told me that,” he said. “I think there’s more understanding and knowledge to the importance of a healthy diet.”

“Eat Fresh Buy Local” campaigns that have spread across the nation are helping their business, according to some local farmers.

Karen Martin, co-owner of Ivy Hill Farm on Smithsburg Pike with her husband, John Stephen Martin, said she also has noticed an increase in business based on how far people have been traveling to her farm.

“We’ve seen more people from all over the Tri-State areas,” she said. “People are willing to go that extra mile sometimes just to get fresh produce.”

Some of the most popular products at Ivy Hill Farm are a vidalia peach salsa, apple salsa, and jams and jellies, Karen Martin said.

Martin said she thinks there are more people buying local products because the agricultural industry is promoting it.

“People buying local know what they’re getting,” she said.

Tina Spade of Myersville, who was at Ivy Hill Farm Friday, said that she prefers to buy produce from local farms when she is in the area.

“I know where it’s coming from, and I’d rather help out the small business,” said Spade, 50. “It’s better to buy fresh products, and the peaches that I had gotten here last week were so good that I had to come back and get more.”

Denny Ommert of South Mountain, Pa., who was shopping at Lewis’ Orchards on Mapleville Road Friday, extolled the virtues of local farm products.

“They’re fresh, and there’s usually a wide variety.... It helps the local economy.”

Lewis’ Orchards owner Shirley Lewis said she has seen a slight increase in business this year and noticed it at other markets in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., as well. She also attributed the increase to the Eat Fresh Buy Local campaigns.

Lisa Weller, sales associate for Lewis’ Orchards, said many people are shopping at the farm for fresh tomatoes, peaches and strawberries.

She said there has been “quite a bit” of an increase in business over last year.

“I think people just like to come out and help out the local farmers, and it tastes better than the grocery store,” she said.

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