In 2009, long-time foodie and entrepreneur Mitchell Berliner and his business partner/collaborator Ann Brody Cove dreamed that a comprehensive farmer’s market could transform the way Bethesda eats and shops.
Experienced in turning ideas into reality using their enthusiasm, hard-headed business acumen and a sure and steady business sense, Ann and Mitch turned their reverie into reality in less than a year. They approached Federal Realty about using one of their open-air parking lots for the Sunday market and the realty firm excitedly agreed.
With their location set, the partners determined their objective: to create the best farmers market in the area with best in class farmer and producers. They envisioned a shopping mecca with a wide variety of foods and related goods that would enable its patrons to shop for all their food needs in one place.
Today, the Bethesda Central Farm Market (BCFM) is a fixture with nearly 40 vendors attracting large, enthusiastic crowds on an average Sunday and Thursday. BCFM is not a quick stop, there are benches throughout the market encouraging lingering and local musicians providing atmosphere. Local businesses help sponsor many of the events and activities lending a town square feel.
Vendors sell nearly everything you could need in the kitchen: produce, meat, poultry, cheese, eggs, dairy products, wine, fresh flowers and herbs, prepared foods, and baked goods. Vendors range from Stonyman Gourmet Farmer Local Artisan Cheese, Eggs, Prepared Foods, Bending Bridge Farm Organic Produce, Springfield Farm for Beef, Pork, Lamb, Sausage, Poultry and Eggs, and Patisserie Poupon Breakfast Pastries and Other Sweets.
Special events are a weekly occurrence; including chef demonstrations, wine tastings from featured vineyards in Maryland, chef demos, blood drives, pie baking contests, composting education, and kids activities through the market’s active and innovative “KidS’ Club.” This club frees parents to shop while their offspring can engage in free, fun and healthy things to do including cooking, crafts and making cider with an antique cider press.
“We envision this market as central gathering place where Bethesda residents and visitors, local restaurants, farmers, and food vendors meet and connect over affairs of the stomach,” says Mr. Berliner. “It is a way of making community connections through the universal language of good, healthy food.”
At the end of the market day, BCFM donates a portion of the vendors’ unsold goods to Manna Food Bank with whom they have a partnership.
Although the main market is open on Sundays on Elm Street from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. between Wisconsin and Woodmont Avenues, there are Thursday midday (Bethesda lane between Elm Street and Bethesda Avenues) and Friday late afternoon at Horace Mann Elementary, (Newark Street, Washington, DC) markets as well.