On the weekends in Washington, DC you can hit up any number of acclaimed farmers markets — from Mount Vernon, where Milian Park provides a cozy backdrop for browsing and sampling, to Downtown Silver Spring, where you can get crab cakes and wine made in Maryland. Perhaps most lauded is The Dupont Circle Market. This vibrant gathering place has been hailed as one of the top markets in the country by the Washington Post and London’s Financial Times. Here, on Sundays, you’ll find everything from traditional strudels made by an Austrian couple to a signature gin made by a family-owned local distillery, alongside the usual pantry and crisper-drawer staples.
It may sound surprising, but in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s upended so many aspects of our daily lives, farmers markets are more important than ever. In Washington, DC and cities across the country, markets are serving a multitude of their communities’ needs. Sustenance, of course — markets, as always, are brimming over with local specialties from produce and honey, to meats, handicrafts and baked goods. But in a year of change, farmers markets are also serving our need for community — where we can support the farmers and artisans who make our food, while getting a little fresh air and sunshine...and get some great people-watching in, too.
Naturally, new precautions are needed to deliver the goods. Vendors are adapting rapidly with the help of contactless payments like Apple Pay, new options for online ordering, pickup and delivery, and other ways of letting shoppers access the market’s bounty and support their local food producers. Read on for how DC’s best are rising to the occasion, and continuing to provide this vital link in our food chain.
Still vibrant, a little less crowded
The best farmers markets are lively — and often crowded, as shoppers stand shoulder-to-shoulder perusing fruits and vegetables, swarming the sample trays, and waiting in line for the must-try food trucks.
Now that staying healthy means keeping our distance, many markets have implemented limits on the number of people who can enter at any time—one in, one out. Lines are spread six feet apart. Vendors ask shoppers to keep their distance. Masks, of course, are mandatory. Samples are kaput — a little disappointing, but it’s for the best (not to mention good incentive to support that mom-and-pop stand with your purchase).
Contactless payments are the way to go
Many markets were already ahead of the curve with the adoption of contactless payments. During this time, vendors and shoppers alike are turning to Apple Pay, the easier, safer way to pay. Set up Apple Pay before you go.
Or, let the market come to you
Want to support your local producers without hitting the market in-person? That’s an option now, too. At FRESHFARM markets, you can pre-order online through Square for curbside pickup or delivery. Pick up at designated (and socially distanced) waiting areas or curbside, in the comfort and convenience of your own car. Or, instead of schlepping armfuls of groceries to and from your home, you can opt for fresh produce to be sent straight to your door, or have a homemade gift delivered to loved ones with Apple Pay. For many shoppers, the convenient option of delivery is going to be where it’s at. Imagine how much fun it will be to get something fresh in the mail — like a produce run straight to your door.
If you do want to take in the farmers market experience, timed reservations are now available for shoppers who want to skip the wait in line. Detailed spreadsheets made by FRESHFARM predict anticipated attendance at individual farmer and producer stalls, so shoppers can plan out their trips when less people will likely show up. Both options have paid off for shoppers and producers alike.
“When the pandemic hit this year, we didn’t know what to do,” said Jorge Barajas of Barajas Produce. “FRESHFARM has done a great job of making us feel comfortable and making customers feel comfortable coming to the market. We’re really appreciative they’ve been able to keep open for farmers like us.”
How to support some of DC’s best markets
“What we supply for FRESFHARM has also increased almost fivefold of what was supplied last year,” said Olaniyi Balogun of Dodo Farms. “It’s helped us to plan ahead and really helped us allay the fears we had initially. So it is really good for us.”
By catering to all walks of life, farmers markets are now able to serve their communities more effectively, keep their vendors busy, grow their customer base, and spread the joys of fresh, healthy food. In 2020, your local farmers market is changing the way we view food during a most unusual time. In fact, it’s already happening, this weekend. And the one next week.
Read on to find locations and online ordering for five of FRESHFARM’s DC-area markets.
Dupont Circle Farmers Market, 1624 20th St NW Washington, DC 20009. Hours: Sun 8:30am - 1:30pm.
The FRESHFARM Dupont Circle Market is located in the heart of one of Washington, DC’s most vibrant and historic neighborhoods. Washingtonian magazine credits the market with “teaching Washingtonians to love their fruits and vegetables.” The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times of London also named the market one of the top farmers markets in the country. During the peak season, there are more than 50 farmers offering conventional and certified organic fruits and vegetables, pastured meat, poultry and eggs, farmstead and artisan cheeses, sweet and savory baked goods (including gluten-free options), fresh pasta, pickles, jams, and jellies, locally roasted coffee, District-made spirits and beers, handmade dumplings, soups and sandwiches, cut flowers, potted plants, soaps, and more.
Mount Vernon Triangle Farmers Market, 499 I St NW Washington, DC 20001. Hours: Sat 9am - 1pm.
The FRESHFARM Mount Vernon Triangle Market is a Saturday morning favorite for residents in and around Mount Vernon Triangle. If you’re looking for a lovely way to spend a Saturday come down to Milian Park, and you’re sure to find delicious bagel sandwiches and coffee. Shop for fresh and local produce, orchard fruit, grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, pickles, jams, jellies, sweet and savory baked goods, ciders, bagels, dog treats, and more.
H Street NE Farmers Market, 800 13th St NE Washington, DC 20002. Hours: Sat 9:30am - 12:30pm.
Located in a fast-changing and dynamic DC neighborhood, the FRESHFARM H Street NE Market has become a quintessential community gathering spot where friends and neighbors meet to shop and socialize. This market offers a bit everything including: conventional and certified organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, sweet and savory baked goods, locally roasted coffee, fermented pickles and krauts, sandwiches and flatbreads, fresh flowers, plants, and more.
Downtown Silver Spring Farmers Market, 1 Veterans Pl Silver Spring, MD 20910. Hours: Sat 9am - 1pm.
The FRESHFARM Downtown Silver Spring Market is the second largest in our network of producer-only markets. This bustling, family-friendly market operates every Saturday year-round and boasts over 45 farmers and producers from DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Whether you’re looking for a bottle of wine for a dinner party (or a cozy night in), fresh meat and produce for a scrumptious dinner, or flowers to brighten your home, Downtown Silver Spring Market has it all, and it’s all local. Come and shop for conventional and certified organic fruits and vegetables, pasture-raised meat, poultry and eggs, artisan sweet and savory baked goods, fresh milk, butter, and yogurt, goat, cow, and sheep cheeses, charcuterie, fermented foods and pickles, jams, jellies and sauces, honey, fresh oysters and handmade crab cakes, Maryland-made wines, beers, and ciders, flowers and plants, handmade soaps, and more!
The market is located in the bustling center of Downtown Silver Spring on Ellsworth Drive and Veterans Plaza. A public garage, accessible from both Georgia and Wayne Avenues, is located adjacent to the market site. It offers free parking on Saturdays and is convenient for loading your car with all of your finds.
Columbia Heights Farmers Market, Park Rd NW & 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010. Hours: Sat 9am - 1pm.
Located on the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza, a vibrant community gathering space, in one of DC’s most diverse neighborhoods, this powerhouse of a market boasts a bountiful roster of vendors. With products ranging from fresh produce to authentic Mexican food prepared with locally grown ingredients, this market’s offerings are as dynamic as the neighborhood itself. You can find everything from baked goods, bread, cheese, dairy, and of course, locally grown produce.