Monday, May 22, 2023

Planting, Growing, Feeding


The return of warmer weather each Spring puts many of us in the mood for outdoor festivals. It’s such a relief to be outside and having fun after the gray and gloomy months of winter. This year in particular, with no appreciable snow to play in, winter was just long, boring, and inhospitable. 

Home gardeners and/or those who till the soil in community gardens use those long, boring months to plan the next season. I am not one of them. But I read a lot, and have learned that this is so. I honestly don’t think much about our little front garden bed until warm weather hits me in the face. Even then, the decisions I need to make are small: to mulch, or not to mulch?

One of the local stories I have neglected over the years is Howard County agriculture. There are several reasons for this, the largest of which is my lack of knowledge and experience. Howard County’s farms are not in my neck of the woods and I have no real personal connection that would open a door of understanding for me. 

When I was in elementary school I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder series and other similar books that described farm life. It appealed to me. I suggested to my father that our environment would be better if we got rid of cars and went back to riding horses. My father (in his inimitable way) told me that I was romanticizing farm life in “the olden days.”

“If you had been born back then, with your allergies and asthma? You’d have been sickly, and then you’d have died.”

Thanks, Dad. 

But he was right. And, for good or ill, it put rather a wedge between me and the world of farms and agriculture. 

Over the years I have visited many of the sorts of farms that welcome preschoolers on field trips. (Fortified with plenty of medication.) I’ve always loved those trips but those experiences are to real farm life in the same way that Doc McStuffin is to a real medical practice. They give you a glimpse. They remind you that farms still exist. Real people do this work.

Back to Spring in Howard County. Aside from outdoor festivals, Spring means the return of Farmer’s Markets. Howard County has a bunch of them. 


12250 Clarksville Pike, Clarksville

May 13 - November 11

Saturdays | 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM



6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia, MD

May 4 - November 16

Thursdays | 12:00 - 6:00 PM



9421 Frederick Road, Ellicott City

May 10 - November 8

Wednesdays | 2:00 - 6:00 PM


7405 Maple Lawn Blvd., Fulton

May 13 - November 4

Saturdays | 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM


5851 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia, MD

May 14 - November 12

Sundays |  9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Wasn’t there a Saturday morning market in Old Ellicott City at one point?

Not all the farms participating in these markets are from Howard County, but, many of them are. I remember one vendor complaining that another (from Virginia) had strawberries early on account of the warmer weather there. The more strawberries, the better - - in my opinion - - but I found his annoyance educational. I hadn’t ever really thought about competition between producers before. Clearly there must be some. 

The Visit Howard County website has an entire section devoted to farms that you can visit.

Pick Your Own Adventure in Howard County, Maryland

I took a quick look and noticed that they include the Roving Radish program. Roving Radish is not a farm but is an ingenious way to bring the fruits of local farmers to the community in convenient and affordable ways. On the other hand, they don’t include Freetown Farm, which is a farm that you can visit. It’s not a commercial farm in the traditional sense, but, they do hold plant sales throughout the Spring as well as farm stand sales later in the season with produce grown at the farm.

All of this is to say: I know there is an entire world in Howard County that revolves around agriculture but I don’t know all that much about it. What’s important or interesting? What do I need to know?

It seems as though I’m asking you a lot of questions lately. Ah, well. It’s Monday. You can always put it off until tomorrow.

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