Fresh faces and fresher produce coming to community
With the Lewes and Rehoboth Beach farmers’ markets in full swing, it was only a matter of time before the Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island markets followed suit. In addition, local growers have teamed up behind Carrie Bennett of Bennett Orchards, debuting the inaugural Farmers’ Market at Sea Colony next week, as well.
The Bethany farmers’ market returns each Sunday, starting June 26, while the Fenwick Island farmers’ market will run on Mondays and Fridays, beginning June 27. The Sea Colony market will be held in the northeastern end of the Sea Colony Marketplace parking lot every Wednesday morning, starting June 29, and will run through the last day of August. All markets will operate from 8 a.m. until noon at their respective locations.
The Bethany Beach location – located across from PNC Bank, at the corner of Garfield Parkway and Pennsylvania Avenue – and the Fenwick Island location, in the grass lot between PNC Bank and Dairy Queen on the east side of Coastal Highway in Fenwick, will both be celebrating their fifth year bringing crops and farm goods from area growers directly to consumers.
With some new names popping up, as well as a slew of returning favorites, patrons will be able to get their hands this summer season on everything from corn, peaches and berries to fresh, brown eggs, breads and honeys, and everything in between.
“There is definitely a character that we want to bring with the farmers market,” said Dan Costello, president of the Bethany Beach market.
Many favorites will be returning to the Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market, and a few new faces will be showing up, as well.
Bob Harrison of Gloria’s Garden in Whaleyville, Md., will be bringing his fresh, brown chicken eggs this year.
“I’ve been doing this for 31 years,” said a proud Harrison, who is no stranger to the farmers’ market scene, having participated in Berlin, Md.’s market in the past.
“I have hundreds of chickens, close to 1,000. All of our eggs are fresh, free-range organic, and not one that we sell will be older than three days.”
The Bethany market last year debuted cooking demonstrations that gave patrons an up-close and personal look at how local farming and produce can be incorporated into delicious meals. Jean and Steve Wode have been instrumental in the cooking demos at the Bethany Beach market location, which will kick off this year with Steve Hagan, restaurateur at Just Hooked and Off the Hook, on Sunday, June 26.
“The food demos started last year,” explained Costello. “We had someone on our board bring up the idea after noticing other markets were doing something similar. It gives customers something to look forward to, and it allows chefs and restaurant owners to interact directly with the visitors. The chef shows up, does a little shopping at the stands and puts together a great meal.
“Jean and Steve Wode have done a great job organizing the demos,” Costello added. “There’s a lot involved to make these expos really work, and everybody really seems to enjoy them.”
The Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market will also be able to accommodate more visitors this year, after the vacant lot next to the market’s parking-lot location was expanded to add more parking in recent months.
“Having a little more space for the market will be nice,” said Costello. “It may give vendors a little more elbow room, but we’re hoping it will enlarge the central concourse of the market. On some of the Sundays, it could get a little crowded.”
Although the Fenwick Island Farmers Market does not accommodate as much foot traffic as the Bethany Beach market has seen, Ellen Magee, head of the Fenwick market, is hoping that the warm spring and summer season that have yielded plentiful crops will, in turn, bring in more buyers.
“We’ve had an awfully dry season this spring,” she said, “but it’s definitely looking good. The heat will bring on a lot of the crops a little early. Our sweet corn ought to be ready in a couple of weeks. All of our planning is coming along really well.”
One of the exclusive Fenwick Island vendors returning to the scene is John Sapienza, with Sap’s Pudding. While his traditional vanilla-flavor pudding, made from local dairy, is among his best-selling flavor, his raisin and brown sugar rice pudding quickly became a hot commodity, too. “This year,” he noted, “I’m looking to bring a sugar-free pudding with an all-natural sweetener. I have been looking at flavors like banana, too, and I’ll be offering some of my crème brûlée, as well.”
The Farmers’ Market at Sea Colony is making its debut this Wednesday, June 29, and with an eye-catching location and an abundance of foot traffic, market president Bennett expects a busy first week.
“We’ve been looking to do something like this for more than a year,” she said. “Local farmers wanted me to start up another one, very similar to Bethany’s. I felt that the Sea Colony community would be the perfect spot for a farmers market. There are thousands of people in a one-block area, from those renting for the week to the homes set back behind the Marketplace.
“But Sea Colony also has a big emphasis on fitness, from their gym to their strong tennis program,” she noted. “A farmers market would be compatible.”
Approval for the special use exception was unanimously granted at Sussex County’s Board of Adjustments meeting earlier this week.
“[The Sea Colony market] will be a true producer’s market, only,” emphasized Bennett, who serves as a liaison in the Bethany market, as well. “Every grower involved produces what they provide. You won’t have a flea-market or food-court atmosphere. Our slogan is ‘Where fresh sea air meets fresh farm flavor,’ and that’s what we want to bring.”
A dozen growers, many of whom overlap with the Bethany and Fenwick Island markets, will provide their goods at the Sea Colony market, including Delaware newcomer Harry Wimbrow of Wimbrow Farms.
“I’m very excited about opening another avenue of marketing,” said Wimbrow, who will provide his fresh produce at both the Bethany Beach and Sea Colony markets. “It’s a great way to help the local economy and the local farmers. Customers enjoy it because they know where the food is coming from.”
Wimbrow Farms specializes in produce, and will feature sweet corn, tomatoes of all types – heirlooms, plum, cherry – seedless watermelon, cantaloupe and an assortment of other vegetables, such as squash, cucumbers, peppers and onions.
Another favorite that will be juggling time between multiple markets this season is Good Earth Market, based in Clarksville and specializing in organic foods.
“By the time these markets roll around,” said Sue Ryan of Good Earth, who has been busy with the Historic Lewes Farmers Market, as well, “we ought to have a lot of blueberries, and customers love them. We will also have snow peas, squash, cucumbers, cut flowers, tomatoes and more. The season’s coming early, and it’s very exciting to see things starting to come up.”
The Bethany Beach Farmers Market will run every Sunday, from June 26 until Sept. 11, while the Fenwick Island Farmers’ Market will run twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays through early September, starting on June 27. The Farmers Market at Sea Colony will operate in the northeast corner of the Sea Colony Marketplace parking lot, adjacent to the Cottage Café, south of Bethany Beach, every Wednesday morning, beginning June 29. All three locations will operate from 8 a.m. until noon at their respective locales.
For more information about the local farmers markets, including upcoming cooking demonstrations, new farmers and more, stay up-to-date with the Coastal Point. For particular details about the Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island markets, visit www.bethanybeachfarmersmarket.com and www.fenwickislandfarmersmarket.com.