When the market opened in 1983, it featured about a half dozen farmers and only partly filled the north side of Laurel Ave. Customers were few and sales were modest. Today, over two dozen producers line both sides of Laurel Avenue, and the market attracts thousands of people weekly to shop at its burgeoning stands. Along the way, the market has greatly expanded the range and availability of the products it offers-from heirloom tomatoes and variegated sweet corn to free-range eggs and exotic bouquets. Some things happily, have remained unchanged.
In 1997, the Takoma Park Farmers Market formed a corporation and became the first major farmers market in the Washington region to be self-governing. Prior to that time, the market was operated by the City of Takoma Park. By-laws, adopted by the general membership, and rules, adopted by the board of directors, form the basis of the market’s operations. Directors serve a two-year term and are elected at the annual meeting of market participants. The market master and assistant market master also are elected by the general membership. Occasional vacancies in the market are filled by vote of the general membership, based on recommendations from the membership committee. Participants in the market pay an annual fee to Takoma Park Farmers Market, Inc. and must provide proof of adequate liability insurance. A portion of the money is paid to the City of Takoma Park under a negotiated lease agreement. The remainder is used for advertising, publicity and other discretionary purposes. The officers, directors and the market master all serve without compensation. The market manager oversees day-to-day operation of the market.
The Takoma Park market continues to be guided by its founding principles. Everything sold at the market is fresh and local—produced by the people who sell it—in the expectation that we will find support among urban dwellers who care about the quality of their food supply.