- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Rosalie Romano was on a mission.
The White Plains resident headed to the Waldorf Farmers Market on Wednesday because she was eager to do something different.
“I am trying out a new recipe,” Romano said. “I have a friend who can’t eat gluten. I’m going to make lasagna using zucchini for her.”
Romano, a New Jersey native, likes to frequent farmers markets to support local farmers. She said that consuming fresh produce is in her DNA.
“I’m Italian,” she said. “We eat a lot of vegetables.”
Maryland designated last week as Farmers Market Week, encouraging residents to shop at the state’s 144 farmers markets.
According to a news release from the Maryland Department of Agriculture, 97 percent of the state’s farmers markets participate in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, Children and Seniors and about a quarter of the markets take part in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.
Charles County residents can stop by markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays on O’Donnell Place in Waldorf and on Charles Street and Washington Avenue in La Plata.
“Saturday, this place rolls,” said Lynn Bowling of Bowling Farms.
Shopping at a farmers market allows consumers to talk with the person who is producing their food.
“Every thing is fresh-picked and tastes better,” she said.
“That was picked at 7 o’clock this morning,” said Bowling, pointing at a container of okra. “My husband picked that corn at 9 o’clock; we dug the potatoes at 8 o’clock.”
“It’s really cool to talk to the farmers who are growing the food that we are eating,” said Amanda Allen of Waldorf, who visited the market with her daughters, Kaylee, 3, and Sierra, 1.
“My girls love their fruits and veggies. Kaylee could wipe out all those raspberries,” Allen said about the fruit Finch Family Farms had for sale.
Vernicia Morgan of Waldorf stopped by the market with her daughter, Sarae, 1, to look for broccoli.
While no farmers were selling the vegetable Wednesday, Morgan did pick up a watermelon, green beans and some cherry tomatoes from the Finch stand.
She said that the more she reads about the health benefits of fresh produce, the more she wants to shop at farmers markets, following an example set by her mother.
“We try to do everything organic” on the farm, said Chuck Finch of Finch Family Farms in Helen, who started farming when he was a boy.
“I’ve been selling eggs since I was 7 years old,” he said.
His family moved into an old farmhouse in Oxon Hill when he was young.
It had no plumbing and no heat, but it had a lot of land and that appealed to Finch, even if it didn’t hold the same allure for his father.
“He wasn’t fooling with it, so I started,” he said. “They said I was enchanted by the ghost of the person who lived there. ... He was a farmer.”
Finch and his wife, Debbie, who makes jams and jellies for the stand, like to talk to their customers and offer tips and advice to them about recipes.
Customers offer tips, too.
“I don’t like okra, so I didn’t grow it,” Chuck Finch said.
After people starting asking for it, he changed his tune.
“OK,” he said. “It might be worth the while,” even if he still doesn’t like it personally.
Linda Quattrociocchi of H&H Farm in Brandywine said she likes selling at the Waldorf market because it is for growers only.
Everything that is on a farmer’s table, they produced themselves, she said.
“Meet the farmers,” she said. “Talk to them and decide if you want to eat their food.”
The Quattrociocchis were high school sweethearts after meeting on the school bus in Fort Washington.
They came from different worlds.
“My husband is a country boy, I was the city slicker. I’m from Brooklyn,” Quattrociocchi laughed, adding that she was from a military family who moved around.
James Quattrociocchi grew up in an Italian family, they had a garden.
“Tomatoes, eggplants,” Linda Quattrociocchi said.
After retiring — he from Pepco, she from running a family day care business in Davidsonville — they decided to start a farm and become beekeepers.
At first, the bees were just a hobby.
“They became prolific in the amount of honey” they produced, she said.
So, along with potatoes, onions and peppers, H&H Farm sells honey, too.
The stand of Eaton Family Farm in Welcome is almost a one-stop shop for anyone who wants tomatoes.
Gary Eaton, who runs it with his wife, Tina, the market manager, pointed out the standard red Park’s Whoppers and green Lemon Boy tomatoes, the heirloom varieties of Doctor Wyche’s, black krims and old Germans, and cherry tomatoes like black cherries, yellow pears, chiquitas and sun sugars.
On a recent Wednesday, he also was selling okra, jalapeño and serrano peppers, squash and Asian long beans.
“It all tastes so good,” said Kaye Christopher of Waldorf, who was picking up some produce from the Eaton stand.
The appeal of farmers markets is easy to understand.
“We’re miles fresher,” Finch said.
La Plata Farmers Market is open 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays in the parking lot of the Charles County Courthouse at Charles Street and Washington Avenue. Call 301-934-8421. The market participates in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, Children and Seniors.
Waldorf Farmers Market is open 1-3 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays through November at 10400 O’Donnell Place. Call 301-934-8571. The market participates in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, Children and Seniors, and in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.
Ecosystem Farm’s On-Farm Market is open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays at the Accokeek Foundation, 3400 Bryan Point Road, Accokeek. Go to www.accokeek.org or call 301-283-2113.