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North Beach Farmers Market

A starting bell “makes for an orderly market”

Clusters of customers and a couple dozen sellers wait along Fifth Street for the bell to ring at 6 o’clock sharp. That’s the signal to start at North Beach Farmers Market.
    “We need a bell at a market of this volume,” says Mike Cox, a Mennonite farmer from White Oak Point Farm. “It makes for an orderly market where everybody’s on the same footing.”
    “This is my first night market, and it’s been a great success,” Cox says.
    What makes this market special?
    “This is my baby. We really work hard at it,” says Stacey Wilkerson, town clerk who also runs the market.
    Every Friday night, farmers from Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties fill their trucks, head to North Beach, then take their spots.
    Shoppers forage for fresh produce, fresh-baked goods and pasture-fed meat. Kettle-cooked corn and sweet and spiced nuts fulfill snack lovers. For art enthusiasts, Seventh Street is an open-air gallery. There’s often live music and classic cars.
    Cox, of Prince Frederick, is an anchor vendor. From his truck’s tailgate, Cox has grown into a wagon at the corner closest to the town boardwalk. His children work the wagon as he talks with customers and replenishes produce from his truck.
    Cox’s stand is often stop-shop-and-drop for customers who ask to leave their purchases for safekeeping until the market closes.
    Friday’s Creek Winery is a veteran at the market, too, selling local eggs, basil, blackberries, Swiss chard, grapes — and wine, by the bottle and glass.
    “People can shop with their glass of wine,” says owner Frank Cleary. He works the market with his son Frank, cousin Tim Cleary and niece Su Crutchfield.
    Vote for your favorite Maryland Farmers Market by midnight September 3: www.farmland.org/vote. North Beach is the ranking local market, in the top five.

North Beach Farmers Market: Fridays, 6-9pm, 5th St. to Bay Ave., North Beach: 301-855-6681; www.northbeach.md.org.