OCEAN PINES — Mariners’ Country Down carries with it a bit of local legend and a significant amount of local history. And this summer it will be one of the places from which the produce comes for the Ocean Pines Farmers Market, which opens next weekend in White Horse Park.
Christine McDowell, who will be the market manager, is also proprietor of The Good Farm, a local CSA and organic produce concern. As her reach in the community grew, she sought out more land on which to raise the vegetables and livestock that her regular customers have come to expect.
It was almost by chance that she crossed paths with the people who own Mariners’ Country Down and was allowed by them to begin using some of their land.
Mariners’ Country Down used to be a major craft village but now acts as the family homestead. The family members, though, wanted to put the fecund land to use and McDowell wanted land to use. It was a perfect fit.
With the help of Ric Gresia running the operations on the various properties they farm, McDowell was able to assist in setting up the Farmers Market in Ocean Pines, something she felt would significantly benefit the community.
Gresia, who lives in Ocean City became so fascinated by permaculture he took it up as a course of study and is now an avid participant.
“Ocean Pines residents have a real appreciation not only for organic foods but also for niche produce,” McDowell said. “As more producers come on board we hope to be able to give them they kind of access to these foods they deserve.”
Venders’ products will include fresh produce, cut flowers, vegetable plants, herbs, baked goods, Maryland blue crabs, cut flowers and a variety of organic items. OPA hopes to add specialty vendors whose merchandise includes products such as honey, jellies and jams, pet treats, meats, peaches, butter, cheese, ice cream, berries, milk and yogurt.
Participating farmers include Dale Hastings of Berlin, Kevin Riser of Berlin, and Bob Harrison who is popularly known as the Eggman from Whaleyville.
Of special interest will be the milk which, once it becomes available, will come from the last dairy farm in Worcester County. Although in the past Chesapeake Bay Farms has been known mostly for ice cream, this year they are expanding into the milk market and expect to also sell cheese produced in Berlin by the end of the summer.
McDowell said that among her top priorities as manager will be to keep the food as local as possible, so produce from farms will be especially preferred.
According to a statement by the OPA, they hope “the market will give the residents of Ocean Pines the opportunity to stock their fridge with fresh, high quality local food and farm products; without venturing across or onto Route 589 into summer time traffic.”
Additionally, the OPA will grow the market slowly, relying on a small number of reliable vendors. For this year the maximum number of full-season vendors is limited to a dozen, but they will reserve space for up to four “drop in vendors who might be interested in participating but unable, for one reason or another, to commit to a full season.”
McDowell said they are still accepting full season vendors, though, and are especially interested in specialty growers. For information about vending information call McDowell at 410-713-8803. For more information about the Ocean Pines Farmers Market call Teresa Travatello at 410-641-7717 ext. 3006