The Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market recently opened for its seventh season, with 16 vendors providing a wide variety of products, a number of which are produced by certified organic growers.
“The full range of the late spring and early summer vegetables are here,” said Market Master Dan Costello. “Sunday, I saw string beans, spinaches… Several growers had really good looking lettuce and carrots.”
Costello said the market also has a variety of berries, baked goods, cheeses and more.
“We have a Sussex County family that does honey. We have huge variety of products from Sussex County-grown lavender. We have a mushroom grower from just over the line in Pennsylvania. It’s a highly popular product.”
Flowers have also been becoming a popular staple at the market.
“We are getting more and more picked flowers,” said Costello. “We have a grower from just over the line in Maryland, and she sells lilies, to put in the ground or just cut flowers.”
As produce comes in season, the market will be offering attendees more varieties of fresh products.
“Corn is the leading summer staple,” noted Costello. “We have some first-rate sweet-corn growers. But the corn won’t be in for a couple more weeks. We’ll have peaches in few weeks, and we’ll see the melons coming. And if the weather’s right, we’ll have some pumpkins at the end of the season.”
The market is held every Sunday from 8 a.m. to noon through Sept. 1. In an effort to offset its costs of operation, the market has also been offering Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market tote bags, for a $10 donation, which Costello said have been well received.
Costello said that the market has been growing steadily since its inception.
“We have grown to 16 vendors, and I believe we started with eight or nine in ’07. We have grown in the number of vendors we host. We’ve had amazing stability in the core of vendors,” he said. “Our attendance is has in the last couple of years gotten to the point where it is somewhere around 1,200 to 2,000 people.”
Cotsello said the makeup of the market attendees varies throughout the summer season, starting out with mostly locals.
“The market, when it opens, is probably 65 to 70 percent residents — people who are here all the time or are from inland communities. After the Fourth of July, the ratio gets to be 50-50, vacationers versus residents,” he said. “We ask people if it’s their first visit, and we can tell by that. The first visits are almost always visitors and vacationers.”
For those who haven’t been to the market in the last year or two, this is the year to check it out, as Costello said many vendors have been adding new products, such as yogurt.
“The vendors have been adding surprising products gradually over the years, so that someone who has not been to the market for a couple of years will see some product surprises,” he said.
“People should check us out because we’re here,” he explained. “Half of the people who come to the market when we’re in full swing either walk or ride their bikes. It’s here, we’re convenient. We’re blessed with being in an agricultural rural area.”
Costello said the Town of Bethany Beach and PNC Bank, which hosts the market in its downtown parking lot, have been unbelievably supportive of the market over the years and that the market is grateful for their support.
“We are always especially grateful for Councilwoman Margaret Young, who recruits our wonderful volunteers.”
Costello said that the family-friendly, dog-friendly market is something that people should visit, and where they can find some great local produce.
“I would say that half of our fruits and vegetables are grown within six miles of Bethany Beach. We are clearly local, family-owned farms,” he said. “It’s freshly grown, freshly picked. There’s a wide selection from the regular produce. There’s plenty of choice and other specialty products. We strive, like the whole farmers’ market movement, to bring the farmers and families together.”
The Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market it located in the PNC Bank parking lot at the corner of Garfield Parkway and Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Bethany Beach. For more information, visit the market’s Web site at www.bethanybeachfarmersmarket.com.