Partnering with neighbors who expressed a need for access to fresh, healthy food, Loyola University Maryland and the York Road Partnership hosted the first Govanstowne Farmers’ Market on July 20.
Close to 300 people stopped by throughout the afternoon to shop for local produce and meats, handmade crafts, breads, and sustainable prepared food on one of the hottest days of the summer. Jeff Reeder, a Govans resident, is thrilled to have a farmers’ market within walking distance of his home for the first time since he moved to the neighborhood 35 years ago.
“I’m hoping that it progresses and that more neighbors know they can get fresh vegetables,” said Reeder. “This is one of the best things Loyola has done with the community.”
Loyola students, faculty, and staff worked with fellow Govans community members to create and organize the farmers’ market as a project of Loyola’s York Road Initiative, a collaborative effort to develop a plan to improve the quality of life for people living, working, and learning in the area. During “Loyola is Listening,” members of the community identified the creation of a farmers’ market as top priority and an opportunity to partner with Loyola. Those same residents also recognized the need for a major grocery store in Govans, and the farmers’ market will have the added benefit of generating data that may be used to recruit a grocery store to the area.
“The market’s short-term goal is to provide our community with access to fresh, local produce, but we can’t ignore the big picture,” said Erin O’Keefe, ’03, director of the York Road Initiative. “Without a grocery store within reasonable walking distance, residents – including many older adults – and Loyola students are justified when they say they live in a ‘food desert’ in the Govans community, and that has to change.”
Impressive attendance and sales reflected demand. Tables full of squash, corn, and various fruits from Barbour’s Fruit Farm and Market were nearly barren when the market closed, and the Ferguson Family Farm is already planning to bring a wider variety of meats next time. The venue proved ideal for local vendors who rely on meeting customers to help drive business growth.
“With the economy right now, this is really a good way to get out there,” said Angela Lacy, who sells her handmade hair accessories, belts, and jewelry through Froggy Pants Creations, a company she started when she lost her job as a professional photographer. “It’s a portable showroom, I can go to the customers instead of them having to come to me.”
And Reeder is confident the market’s arrival will do far more than make a positive impression in the community.
“It’s about change. It’s all about joint effort, and it’s going to take time,” Reeder said.
The Govanstowne Farmers’ Market will be open from 3 – 7 p.m. July 27, Aug. 3 and 10 in the parking lot of Loyola’s Transportation and Public Safety complex located at 5104 York Rd., Baltimore, MD 21212. More information about the vendors and a downloadable flyer to share with friends is available on the Govanstowne Famers’ Market website.
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