About the Market
Organized in 1982, the Takoma Park Farmers Market was the Washington area's first Sunday market and an early pioneer in the "producers-only" movement.
When the market opened, in mid-summer 1983, it featured about a half dozen farmers and only partly filled the north side of Laurel Ave. Customers were few and sales were modest. Today almost two dozen producers line both sides of Laurel Avenue, and the market attracts thousands of people weekly to shop at its burgeoning stands.
Along the way, the market has greatly expanded the range and availability of the products it offers-from heirloom tomatoes and variegated sweet corn to free-range eggs and exotic bouquets.
But some things, happily, have remained unchanged. Two of the original vendors continue to sell at the Takoma Park Farmers Market: Potomac Vegetable Farms and Twin Springs Fruit Farm.
And, the Takoma Park market continues to be guided by its founding principles. Everything sold at our market is fresh and local—produced by the people who sell it—in the expectation that we will find support among urban dwellers who care about the quality of their food supply.
The "Producers-Only" Philosophy
The key to the Takoma Park Farmers Market's success is the "producer-only" rule. In our view, it is a concept that benefits both the buyer and the seller.
Customers are free to ask when and how the food was produced. They can have confidence that it meets their standards of quality and safety. Farmers can be assured of a level playing field. They know their competitors faced all the same costs and risks in bringing products to market.
Customers often ask if everything sold at the market is "organic." The answer is no. Some farmers have been certified as organic, others follow an organic regimen but have not sought certification, and others use an integration of organic and non-organic methods.
In addition to the "producer-only" rule, we have adopted other provisions to keep our market fresh and local. Products sold at the market must be produced within a 125-mile radius of Takoma Park. An astonishing array of fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products comes from our regional foodshed, but some things just can't be grown here. You won't find bananas at the Takoma Park Farmers Market—ever.
How the Market Operates
In 1997, the Takoma Park Farmers Market formed a corporation and became the first major farmers market in the Washington region to be self-governing. Prior to that time, the market was operated by the City of Takoma Park.
By-laws, adopted by the general membership, and rules, adopted by the board of directors, form the basis of the market's operations. Directors serve a two-year term and are elected at the annual meeting of market participants. The market master and assistant market master also are elected by the general membership. Occasional vacancies in the market are filled by vote of the general membership, based on recommendations from the membership committee.
Participants in the market pay an annual fee to Takoma Park Farmers Market, Inc. and must provide proof of adequate liability insurance. A portion of the money is paid to the City of Takoma Park under a negotiated lease agreement. The remainder is used for advertising, publicity and other discretionary purposes.
The officers, directors and the market master all serve without compensation. The market manager oversees day-to-day operation of the market.
We love dogs, but not at the market!
We are a producers-only farmers market and only food and agricultural products may be sold at the market. Vendors selling prepared foods, such as baked goods, jams, cider and dried herbs, or certain other agricultural products, such as honey, eggs and meat, obtain all appropriate Montgomery County Health Permit and other county or state licenses as required.
Farmers at the Takoma Park market have a long tradition of donating perishable food at the close of the market to local organizations that serve the homeless and others in need. Both the Shepherd's Table www.shepherdstable.org and Miriam's Kitchen www.miriamskitchen.org regularly pick up at the close of the market each Sunday.
Becoming a Vendor
For information on becoming a vendor, please click here.