Amid snow flurries, the University of Maryland Farmers Market hosted its annual Holiday Market on Dec. 8, which was held at Tawes Plaza Garden for the first time to follow COVID-19 recommendations.
Larry Tumlin, the farmers market manager, founded the Holiday Market in 2015, which is also when he started working as the manager. Since then, the Holiday Market has been held at Adele H. Stamp Student Union. This year however, Tumlin made the choice to divert everything outside, which he thought was the right decision.
The farmers market ran from Sept. 8 through Nov.17 this semester. The Holiday Market was the last opportunity for students to purchase items from the local vendors before the market reopens in the spring. The farmers market was not held in person last school year and this is also the first time the Holiday Market is back since the start of the Covid pandemic.
According to Tumlin, some of the vendors he usually arranges for the Holiday Market were not able to come this year because of the pandemic. Two of the produce vendors that attend the farmers market don’t come to the Holiday Market, since their products are not in season. To make up for the missing vendors, Tumlin usually recruits more craft vendors, more bakers, and other types of businesses, but it was almost impossible this year because of the pandemic, he said.
The vendors at the Holiday Market sold things like honey, jam, meat, jewelry, fudge, bread and more. Students love coming to the market to get food or coffee and just to enjoy having a break, Tumlin said.
“Sometimes it’s just fun to look and see what people in the local area are cultivating for their own businesses,” said Flo Petite, a senior English major, who’s favorite products at the market include jewelry and apple cider.
Even though the Holiday Market had a lot of the same vendors as the farmers market did this year, lots of students attended and the lines for several vendors were long. Riley Harris, a psychology and family science double major said she thought that some products were selling out more than during previous markets. It seemed like more people knew about the Holiday Market, she said.
“A lot of people will say, ‘What do you mean there’s a farmers market?’ even though it’s here every week. They just don’t know about it,” she said.
For Country Vittles from Critter Hill Farm, one of the vendors, this year was their first time at the Holiday Market. They have two family owned farms, located in Carroll County and Biglerville, Pennsylvania. The family has been coming to the UMD farmers market since it started 10 years ago, according to Chasity Hare, who’s parents started the farm. Because the market was previously held indoors, it wasn’t possible for them to attend due to the large coolers they use to hold meat at the markets.
This market was an experiment for the farm, said Hare. Since the market happens so close to winter break, they weren’t sure if students were going to be purchasing lots of meat. Many students are probably trying to clean out their fridge before going home, she said. On the other hand, someone might want to purchase meat to give as a gift to their parents, which is why they wanted to try it out this year, Hare said.
Another popular vendor, Carol’s Citchen, is an African American women owned small business, run by Carol Martin. Martin sells homemade gourmet style jams and preserves. Carol’s Citchen is a specialty vendor at the farmers market, meaning they are only there once a month. Martin had attended the Holiday Market in 2019 and it was such a celebration that she wanted to come back this year, she said.
“I’m getting great responses. I’m getting all positive responses. They love my jam. One lady said that she will not go anywhere else but here,” Martin said.