“It started with an introduction from a mutual friend.”
With Cracked Eggery announcing the opening of their storefront in Cleveland Park just steps from the first place their egg sandwiches were ever regularly available, Cleveland Park Farmers Market manager Mary Ellen Koontz is reflecting on the incredible growth the farmers market has seen and looking forward to celebrating its fifth season.
“We’ve now had two businesses– Cracked and [local coffee farmer & roaster] Via Volcan join us at the market and less than two years later, open storefronts,” she says. Conversations with the coffee roaster started over email in 2019, while the team behind Cracked Eggery was introduced through a mutual friend. “That friend knew I was looking for someone to cater a casual breakfast meeting and suggested the then-just launched Cracked. She had mentioned to them that I run a farmers market on the weekends, so they jumped right into their vendor pitch when they delivered the sandwiches.”
For both vendors, the Saturday market was their first regular location. It was the first time they were able to engage with the D.C. community and build a following. And build a following they did. It’s not unusual to see long lines for either on Saturday mornings at the farmers market, or see them featured in the local press.
“It’s been really incredible to see all of our businesses grow. We have vendors that are companies just launching to 4th generation family farms, and no one knew how 2020 would turn out. The city’s restrictions on farmers markets meant we had to scale back after a big growth year, and my first season managing the market [in 2019]. Our vendors thrived and it became really apparent early on that not only are farmers markets essential, but Cleveland Park’s is the heartbeat of the neighborhood.”
Koontz describes last year’s mandated shift as the market going from the “town square” with live music and tables for many of our neighborhood organizations to a quick, walk through model. “It had a completely different feeling, but we felt the market could provide this little speck of normalcy, even if we were all in masks and had to wait in line. With the number of families and older residents in the neighborhood, we knew we needed to keep the market open.”
This year, the farmers market will look much the same as DC continues operating in Phase 2. “We do have some new vendors joining us that I’m excited about, and the market entering its fifth season is a big achievement.” When asked who the new vendors are, Koontz replied “you’ll just have to join us when we open on April 10 and find out!”
The Cleveland Park Farmers Market is open Saturdays from 9 AM – 1 PM on the 3400 block of Connecticut Ave., beginning April 10. Details, including COVID-19 safety guidelines, opening dates and more are available below.
Interested vendors should email Mary Ellen at firstname.lastname@example.org for application instructions. The Cleveland Park Farmers Market is sponsored by the Cleveland Park Main Street.
Phase 2 Market Guidelines:
- Do not come to market if you are sick or feeling ill.
- Masks are REQUIRED. Those entering the market without a mask will be asked to leave.
- Hand sanitation stations are located throughout the market
- Please maintain a safe social distance of 6ft from neighbors and vendors
- Try to keep your visit quick, ideally under 20 minutes.
- Where possible, please limit the number of household members joining you at market to keep lines moving quickly for us all.
- Pets, including dogs, cats, birds, snakes, etc. are not permitted in the market through the duration of the public health emergency.
- Market will continue in a one-way flow from the south entrance at the mid-block crosswalk north towards the Post Office.