December 8th, 2017

Gifting Local

by Juliet Glass

Whatever your holiday traditions, gift giving likely plays a part. This year, consider spending your gift dollars at the farmers market. When you gift local, you’ll be supporting a local farmer or maker and fueling the Maryland economy.  If you family doesn’t exchange gifts, consider making a donation to Maryland Market Money in their honor, giving the gift of fresh, local food to a neighbor in need.

Self-Care: Farmers markets are a great place for handmade goods to heal the body and soul. Audia’s Farm sells aromatherapy sachets (for people and cats!).  Belle’s Acres makes small batch skincare with nourishing goats milk, and North Cove Mushrooms sells immune boosting tinctures to help fight winter colds. While you’re at it, why not order two? ‘Tis also the season to treat yourself.

Local Grains: Locally grown and milled grains are having a resurgence in our region, and make a great gift for the bakers in your life. Full Cellar Farm sells soft red winter wheat and cornmeal. Homestead Farm also has soft red winter wheat, wheat bran, cornmeal, and grits. Migrash Farm offers a wider range, including rye, hard red wheat, spelt, and more, flours suitable for breads, cookies, and cakes. Throw in a dozen eggs and market butter and maybe you’ll get a scratch made baked good as a thank you!

Tools for Entertaining: Have friends or family members who love to entertain? Get them the fixings for beautiful cheese and charcuterie board. Start with a few farmstead cheeses (Keswick Creamery, Charlottetown Farm, Shepherd’s Whey), a sweet condiment or two (Infused Spreads and Atwater’s are both great options), and some Hex Ferments kraut or Number 1 Sons pickles for acid and sliced apples or pears for crunch. Throw in some charcuterie (Urban Butcher and Smith Meadows Farm) or smoked fish (Neopol Savory Smokery) if your lucky recipient enjoys those foods. For the vegetarian, you can’t go wrong with a pint of Greek County Mix from Dimitri Olive Farm.

Deck the Hall: Farmers markets are places to find unique seasonal holiday decor, such as gorgeous handmade wreaths and garlands (Anchor Nursery, Four Seasons Nursery, Two Boots Farm). Banner Bee Co has beautiful hand-dipped beeswax candles that include traditional tapers, pillars, votives, and adorable sunflower and bee floaters.

Drink This: Everybody eats…and drinks. For the coffee lovers in your life, a bag of locally roasted beans is always a welcome gift (Zeke’s and Alcoba Coffee). Maryland-made wines, beer, cider, and hard liquors are available at some markets. Look for Boordy Vineyard, Milkhouse Brewery, Faulkner Branch Cidery and Distilling Co, Blackwater Distilling, Lyon Distilling Co., and Tenth Ward Distilling Company.

Foodie-Insider Favorite: Small batch vinegar is a growing niche in value-added local foods, tapping into the fermentation trend and desire to reduce food waste. A bottle makes a great gift for your epicurean, in-the-know friends. Three Springs Fruit Farm partnered with Keep Well Vinegar to co-brand a line of single varietal vinegars made from excess and damaged fruit. Flavors include: sweet cherry, Grimes Golden, York Imperial, and Jonathan. With vinegar flavors that range from pawpaw to ramp, Lindera Farms‘ ever changing lineup reflects our local foodshed and shifting seasons.

To find these products at a market near you, please reach out directly to the vendors to confirm their market schedules. The following markets are open this month and, depending on the market, include some of these vendors.

Anne Arundel County Farmers Market
Baltimore Farmers Market & Bazaar
Camden Avenue Farmers Market
Crossroads Community Market
Greenbelt Farmers Market
FRESHFARM Downtown Silver Spring Market
Kent Island Farmers Market
Ocean Pines Farmers Market
Riverdale Park Farmers Market
Takoma Park Farmers Market
32nd Street Farmers Market

About the Author Juliet Glass Juliet Glass

Born and raised in New York City, Juliet Glass attended Reed College in Portland, OR and the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. Although trained as a historian, her passion for food and cooking led her to a career as a freelance food writer. Driven by a desire for more real world experience in food system management, Juliet joined FRESHFARM in Washington, DC where she managed markets, programs, and lead communications efforts. Juliet joined Maryland Farmers Market Association as the External Relations coordinator and works to increase the organization's visibility and impact, advance its mission, and expand community involvement. When not working, Juliet enjoys cooking, visiting farmers markets, yoga, and spending time with her husband, sons and cats.