Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Howard County Hospital Farmers Market and Food Sources

Every Friday afternoon this Summer, under a small band of white tents, you'll find a local farmer's market in the parking lot at Howard County Hospital in Columbia. The market runs from 2-6pm and has a few produce vendors, cheese, baked goods, and coffee. I stumbled upon it last week when I was in the area and was delighted to find a few farmers that will be perfect to profile on this blog. I'm visiting the first of them tomorrow and hopefully will have something out next week on that trip. For those who can make a weekday afternoon market, maybe on the way home from work, I'd recommend a stop. Here's a few notes on those I met last week.

Bowling Green Farm was there selling a wide range of cheese from their northern Howard County dairy herd. Almost every day that we drive south on Rt. 32 toward Columbia, we pass a group of cows grazing in hilly pastures by the side of the highway. The land is a bit hilly with a small dirt road that runs to the back of it, an assortment of craggy trees and a small stream. It's a bit hard to describe, but this little snippet of land - a mere few seconds in view as you speed down the highway - is picturesque in the context of cows. I can't tell you how many conversations I've had over the years about these cows with folks, all wondering to whom they belonged. I thought I'd solved the mystery for a minute at the market. Mitzi of Bowling Green Farm told me that their dairy farm is off Underwood Road. Indeed, I am quite familiar with the entrance to their family farm, marked by a small sign that heralds its family tradition. But, I'd also been assuming that this must be the source of our famous (ok, stretch) cows. Alas, I was wrong. Mitzi said those can't be her cows and the mystery continues.

Having said that, we did talk briefly about her farm and cheese. When I can get her time, I'll do an in-depth interview and write a profile for the blog. I'm quite curious about the history of her farm and how she ended up in the cheese business last Fall. Like most Maryland farms, they are taking their milk up to Pennsylvania and having cheese made there. They have a wide range of cheese, including mozzarella and feta, in addition to the standard cheddars and herbed-cheeses. They've been busy marketing, and the cheeses are actually available at a few markets - including Roots and David's (I think) - as well as farms with stores, like Larriland Farms. We tried the feta, and it was great in a spinach strawberry salad.

I also met John Dove of Love Dove Farm in Woodbine. I'm heading to see him tomorrow afternoon for a discussion and tour of the farm, but a quick look through his website shows that he comes from a long line of farmers and had farmed conventionally for some time in other crops. This is his first year selling organic produce and I'm really looking forward to hearing about his change and what his future looks like. We bought some wonderful spinach from him to go with that feta cheese. Last week he also had a salad mix, radishes, garlic scapes (yum yum), and a handful of other produce items that are escaping my mind right now.  More to come on the farm, the farmer, and how to connect to buy food!

A number of new readers have asked me specifically about sourcing organic or local foods, so they are much more interested in farmer profiles than my ramblings about my own journey... can't blaim them! but, over time it becomes a bit hard to track down the specific profiles. Here is a list of farms that I profiled last year -- the easiest way to find them is to click on their farm name in the word cloud to the right and then follow the link to the specific post about them, usually that's the earliest one. This will also take you to their own websites or blogs. Since the CSA season is now over for sign-up, I'm not going to note that here... just what you could actually obtain from the farm this summer. 

Truffula Seed Produce -- produce
Green Akeys Farm -- various meat
Nev-R-Dun Farm -- produce
Thorne Family Farm-- produce (I haven't done the full profile yet, but several mentions)
White Rose Farm -- produce and meat
Serpent Ridge Winery - wine
Furnace Hill Roasters - coffee
Sweet Simplici-tea -- tea house
Sattva Place - chickens (not profiled, but mentioned)

Most of these folks are at the downtown Westminster Farmers Market, which is 8-12 in downtown Westminster. I might have missed a few.

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