The first week of the Saturday farmers market in front of the Beltway Plaza Maryland started with one booth. That being said, there was a slow, but steady traffic of Silver Diner customers and staff for the Montpelier Farms stand offering fresh fruits, vegetables and preserves.
I missed the raspberries, and the kale was going quickly, but the table offered many other fresh choices: sweet corn, cantaloupes, southern Maryland peaches, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, squash, cucumbers and jars of jewel-bright preserves. Most of the fresh fruits and vegetables were picked this past Wednesday through Friday, and prices, like 60 cents per ear of corn, seemed reasonable.
Market purists might take issue with the 200-acre, Upper Marlboro-based Montpelier Farms not producing everything it sold at the Silver Diner stand. Francis Morgan, the genial and efficient “almost” 17-year-old manning the stand, told me that the peaches came from a southern Maryland orchard and the preserves—blackberries, blueberries, pumpkin butter and apple pie filling – though made with Montpelier Farms-grown fruit, were cooked and canned offsite.
Organic food enthusiasts will also want to know that Montpelier Farms does spray with pesticides, though Morgan said they only apply one light spraying.
While at the market, I decided to brunch at the Silver Diner, which for the past year has been promoting its use of regionally grown seasonal produce and farm-to-table food. I enjoyed the Gunpowder Farms bison sliders with vegan cabbage slaw, and my dining companion savored an omelet with tomatoes, basil, and Firefly Farms goat cheese.
Both suppliers are regular vendors at the Greenbelt Farmers’ Market and the Greenbelt Co-op Supermarket and Pharmacy, so I was pleased to note that these vendors are getting more exposure.
I spoke with the diner manager on duty, Rajesh Mishra, who highlighted Silver Diner’s mission to provide its customers with seasonal, fresh and local produce and to help the local economy. He noted that last week’s farm stand in Merrifield, Virginia, did over $500 in business during the four hours the stand was open, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Our waitress, Lereiya Edmonson of Laurel, Maryland, told us that she was a regular customer of the farm stand last year and mentioned that she especially liked the apple butter, jams, squash and peaches. She added that she is a fan of freshly grown produce and often visits the Amish market in Laurel.
Edmonson presented me with one of the Silver Diner coupons that gives the diner’s farm stand customers a dollar off any purchase over $2. After brunch, I took advantage of that coupon to purchase a fragrant, honeyed cantaloupe and several ears of sweet corn, which will be welcome additions to my table this week.
The Greenbelt Silver Diner will host the farm stand from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday until October. Montpelier Farms may be joined by a second vendor.