A vacant lot once overrun with trash in Brentwood’s Gateway Arts District on Rhode Island Avenue opened Friday as a lively market and art space, as musicians played into the evening and passersby strolled among the vendors selling jewelry, baked goods and fresh vegetables.
The Route 1 Farmers Market & Bazaar, which drew more than 200 people, marked the opening of a summer-long initiative sponsored by the Gateway Community Development Corp., which aims to transform neighborhoods by reclaiming underused urban spaces, said Carole Bernard, executive director of the organization.
The program is part of the Art Lives Here initiative, a campaign to promote the Prince George’s County arts district made up of Brentwood, Hyattsville, Mount Rainier and North Brentwood.
“It’s really taking a space that’s been underutilized and doing something with it that adds value to the community,” Bernard said. “The goal was to give people an experience.”
Open weekends through Sept. 27, the bazaar, located at 4100 Rhode Island Ave., combines about five art installations with crafts and food.
One of the artists, J.J. McCracken of Brentwood transformed a hitch trailer into a site used to collect rainwater, titled “Gleaning the Rains.” The rainwater will be used to water 50 sunflowers planted behind the lot by artist Michael Turner of Brentwood.
Teresa Thiemann, 34, of Hyattsville said her daughter, Lilly, 5, and son, Zephyr, 3, enjoyed the event and were curious about the art installations.
“We’re definitely fans of farmers markets,” said Thiemann, who had ridden her bicycle to the market along with her children — pulling her son behind her in a cart as her daughter rode along on training wheels. “To have one right here is wonderful, just to be [able] to bike to it.”
Nancy Kimball, 65, of Hyattsville said she had enjoyed looking at the arts and crafts and bought a loaf of cinnamon pound cake from Crest Hill Bakery of Beltsville.
“I love this idea,” Kimball said of the market and bazaar. When more fruits and vegetables come in season, she said she will probably come to the market every week.
Bernard said she was pleased with turnout for the event’s opening weekend and will continue working with the Prince George’s County Redevelopment Authority, which owns the former auto lot where the event takes place, to improve signage directing people to a nearby parking lot available to farmers’ market patrons. She said the next step in the project is to reach out to local restaurants and encourage them to buy produce from the market.
The market and bazaar is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday and from 4 to 8 p.m. every first Friday of the month. For more information visit www.rt1farmersmarket.com.