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& # 39; The best I've seen & # 39 ;: Baltimore Farmers & # 39; Market packed on the first Sunday of the season

Reggie Bailey chewed a sausage breakfast sandwich at the Baltimore Farmers & Market & Bazaar on Sunday, while his wife, Chavon, the Mt. Royal Soaps offer and chose a bar, called The Clean Bohemian, a sandalwood soap with national Bohemian beer cooked in it.

Nakayla McCallum, 9, a fourth grade at the Baltimore Junior Academy, performed "Pogo Stick" and "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" on the violin with the OrchKids of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, an after-school music program for youth in the city . Her mother, Tamara McCallum, gave them the last two Caribbean veggie samosas before the Curry Shack at the Market was sold out on Sunday.

The crowd that walked under the Jones Falls Expressway for the first Sunday of spring was the largest in the 40 years that Joe Bartenfelder can remember. Bartenfelder Farms in Preston on the Eastern Shore sells kale, collard and mustard green, pansies in hanging baskets and other plants on the market.

"It's the best I've seen for the opening day," he said. "It was a buying crowd. Sometimes you get a crowd that just looks and walks by. They walked and watched – and wanted to buy."

Bartenfelder, who left Caroline County around 3:30 PM to set up his market stall in Baltimore for 6 AM, said his goods were limited on the first day to what he had in the winter greenhouse. As spring and summer arrive, a greater variety of herbs and plants will also arrive.

"Every week you come now, you see something different and new," he said.

The farmer's market, organized by the Promotion and Art Office in Baltimore and Saratoga, is open every Sunday until December 22 from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. Eighteen new suppliers joined the market in the 42nd year.

The Minis donuts from the Migue were the main draw for Reggie Bailey, 51, from Reisterstown.

In addition to donuts, breakfast sandwiches and soap, the Baileys also picked eggs, fresh produce and & # 39; gull gadgets & # 39; as Reggie Bailey called the non-food products on the market.

"I'm not here for the soap," he said. "I'm here for dinner. And it's a beautiful day."

"Supporting local businesses is so important," Chavon Bailey, 43, added.

Michael Lin and Laura Lopez, from Falls Church, Virginia, waited in line to buy a seasoned steamed chicken sandwich from Ekiben. The Baltimore market was much larger and more diverse than the ones in Washington, D.C., they said.

Other Sundays may be less busy than the first of the year, Lin said, 49.

But Hopkins graduate said the first day of the season was "a good time to visit the city I love".

Lin rejected the recent news from Mayor Catherine Pugh taking a leave to recover from pneumonia in the midst of a hundreds of thousands of dollar scandal from her & # 39; Healthy Holly & # 39; book sale at the University of Maryland Medical System, where she was a member of the board of directors, and to other leading organizations that do business with the city, like & # 39; sound & # 39 ;.

"Life is filled with chaos anyway," he said. "If you tune it in, life is still pretty good."

It was a difficult few years for the city, said Berna Taylor, 59, of White Marsh. She gave up her Orioles subscriptions after four or five seasons this year due to safety issues based on how far she has to walk from where she parked.

But the farmers market is a constant, she said.

Her granddaughter, Tatiana Taylor, 4, of White Marsh, had a panoramic view of the market, from the shoulders of the little girl's grandfather, Tim Taylor. They smiled when Tatiana & # 39; s mother, Tameka, took their photo.

"It's phenomenal to see everyone come together, despite what's going on," said Berna Taylor.

The Taylors regulars have been on the market for the last ten years, even to greet some of the sellers with hugs and Christmas presents. Zeke & # 39; s Coffee, in particular, is a family favorite and usually their first stop on arrival, they said.

The eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, okra, ramps and other fresh food almost allow David Lucas, 54, from Baltimore to avoid the supermarket all summer.

"It is our routine from opening day to closing day," he said. "It's one of those things that puts us right ahead of the week. … It's a bit thin in the beginning. We look forward to slopes, early greens, things like that."

Lucas, a commercial photographer, said the "Healthy Holly" scandal was "the usual" for Baltimore in his appearance of political corruption but "mind-blowing" in the details of the case – a mayor who accepts money from companies that doing business with the city for booking children with anti-obesity for distribution in schools.

"In this specific case, I was shocked," he said.

Katy and Josh Robinson stood with the 2-year-old Keziah in a stroller at the back of a long line of Beef barons.

The couple from Owings Mills intended to try some of the food on the market – and perhaps their company, Chef Pablo Spices, introduced some of the suppliers and suggested a partnership. Both said they enjoyed the positive atmosphere that the market brings to the city, which has surpassed 300 murders in the last four years.

"It's great to see how Baltimore blooms," says Josh Robinson, 31, born in West Baltimore. "It's time to really change something, get honest people there and checks and balances. We need honest people in power. & # 39;

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

twitter.com/cmcampbell6

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