The Fenwick Island and Bethany Beach farmers’ markets are up and running, and word is spreading quickly. Sue Ryan has been seeing record numbers of customers in her shop, Good Earth Market, as a result of the farmers’ market’s exposure, and some farmers are selling out of produce and products before the day is over.
“Business has been great,” said Ryan. “The Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market is so hard to get into because no one wants to leave.”
The Parsons, a well-known farming name in the area, were unable to make it to a market earlier this season, after customers nearly purchased all their goods at their location in Dagsboro.
A warm spring and a hot summer have forced many farmers to get a little more irrigation out to the fields, but the rising temperatures have been helping to produce an abundance of crops.
“It’s been a really good spring,” said Ryan Richard of East View Farm in Ocean View. “We had all that snow this winter, but it’s really balanced out. We were able to get the tomatoes in the ground, and our spinach and beets have been doing very well.”
In addition to the Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market, East View Farm participates in the Ocean City, Md., market, located in the northernmost Phillips Seafood parking lot, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Ted Wycall with Greenbranch Organic Farms, out of Salisbury, Md., has had a similar response for the weather.
“It was an excellent spring,” he said. “The heat was a little tough, but we’d rather have a dry, hot spring than a cold, wet one like last year. A late frost came this year, not quite as bad as last year’s. We lost some watermelons, but other than that, we’re doing great.”
In today’s culture, providing natural and local products is a huge selling point at markets, but organic farms like Greenbranch and stores like Good Earth, which carry many organic goods, have shoppers coming back.
“It doesn’t really give us too much of an edge,” said Wycall. “Our produce just starts really fresh. We go through a lot of the same processes as everybody else.” Greenbranch joined the Rehoboth and Lewes farmers’ markets this season, as well.
Fenwick Island’s biweekly farmers’ markets share many of the same successful names as the Bethany Beach market on Sundays, but due to lighter foot traffic, closer proximity to the highway and limited parking, business has not turned up the same number of shoppers in Fenwick. But that hasn’t stopped growers.
“It’s still nice,” said John T. Sapienza of Sap’s Pudding. “Any morning out in the sun beats being stuck in a kitchen.”
His plain, raisin and brown sugar rice pudding was a hit at last year’s farmers’ market in Fenwick Island, and he’s hoping it does the same again this season.
“I do what I can to work with other vendors,” he said. Last week, he dished out a peach crème brulée, made with his pudding in place of custard, with fresh peaches and caramelized sugar on top. Through the cooler, autumn season, he mixes up eggnog- and pumpkin-flavored puddings, which have found the shelves of local vendors, as well as in the aisles of Harris Teeter.
“The farmers’ markets are a great way to meet your clientele,” he said. “I’m up at the Rehoboth and Georgetown markets, too, and you can really connect with the people who come out.”
Devin Hudson has also been meeting customers who stop by for some of the products made by Honey Bee Lake Apiary at the Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island markets.
“Weather, in the long run, doesn’t affect honey itself,” he said, “but we lost some hives this winter. The warm spring and hot summer have been good for the bees, though. It’s really been helping us rebuild.”
Honey Bee Lake Apiary uses honey to make bath butter, hand soaps, lip balm, candles and, well, honey, which Hudson noted is still his best seller.
The Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market is open every Sunday morning, now through Sept. 5, from 8 a.m. until noon, in the parking lot at the corner of Garfield Parkway and Pennsylvania Avenue. The Fenwick Farmers’ Market is open twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, from 8 a.m. until noon, in the lot beside PNC Bank, along Coastal Highway.