Farmers, The First Lady & Me

September 27th, 2009
Those eyes! Those arms! It's First Lady Michelle Obama, a few inches away from me, shaking hands at the opening of the FRESHFARM Markets by The White House.

Those eyes! Those arms! It's First Lady Michelle Obama, a few inches away from me, shaking hands at the opening of the FRESHFARM Markets by The White House.

Yes, I was actually close enough to Michelle Obama to snap these photos. Shook her hand, spoke to her – it was an amazing high point after several weeks of work helping my client FRESHFARM Markets explore the new world of social media and its relevance to farmers markets.  (Check out this  Twitter stream for some of the results).


By now you’ve probably heard that The First Lady exclaimed, “I’ve never seen so many people so excited about vegetables!”  But what you didn’t hear was the man next to me who shyly inquired, “What’s that purple stuff?” before learning it was kohlrabi.

People were walking around from stand to stand,  pointing and looking at  “exotic” produce specimens that typically aren’t available at the local supermarket. And they weren’t just looking, they were buying.  Some farmers ran out of food because the market completely exceeded their expectations.


I couldn’t resist taking this photo of  handsome Sam Kass, the White House chef who oversees the White House garden.  As I tweeted, he was welcomed like a rock star —  after Michelle Obama, he got the loudest cheers from the crowd (or at least from the female contingent!)

Take a look at these other photos I snapped. I  made a point to walk by every one of the eighteen farmers stalls in order to try and capture the atmosphere on opening day. Like me, you may have been to many, many farmers’ markets before. But few people have ever been to a  farmer’s market that looks anything like this one…

It seemed like a dream, but it was true. This woman from Welsh Gardens kept beckoning people over for a lavender hand wash.


Talk about a decadent pleasure. It was amazing. Inside the Welsh Gardens tent were a beautiful array of organically grown lavender soaps and herbs.

And here’s a shot of Blueberry Hill Farm.


Do you see the beautiful marigold garland? The farmer’s daughter made The First Lady a lei from these marigolds.

One of the greatest pleasures at market is enjoying the samples that are freely passed out.  At  Clear Spring Creamery, below, @gplot mixes  a mean Blueberry smoothie for yours truly.


The women of Endless Summer Harvest look so happy in the picture below, don’t they?


I love their sign (below) welcoming Michelle Obama – although unfortunately she never made it to this stand. (She was actually shopping behind a security fence, although you couldn’t tell from most of the pix released that day).


The picture below shows the beautiful display that greeted Mrs. Obama at The Farm at Sunnyside.


And despite this amusing sign promoting Sunnyside’s beets, Mrs. Obama passed on the beets!


Solitude. Many people were surprised  to find yarn at market. Perhaps some of the city folk forgot that yarn comes from the wool of sheep, which after all, live on farms! (Let’s forget about those synthetic yarns, shall we?)  This beautiful little shop – it really seemed more like a shop than a stand – reminded me of little stores in Ireland.


Gunpowder Bison and Trading Company.


I love the name of this market. It sounds like something from the Wild West, but this 70 acre farm is actually located in northern Baltimore County, Maryland.

Wollam Gardens. Beautiful. Just beautiful. What else can one say?


Quail Creek Farm and Praline Bakery.
I don’t know about you, but when I first heard the term “farmers market,” I didn’t think of French pastries.


But these  croissants aux amandes  looked to be straight from Paris! Instead, they were from Quail Creek Farm in West Virginia.


And Praline Bakery, from my hometown of Bethesda, also had  the types of delectable pastries most people associate more with Paris than with a farmers market on a city street. So much for snacking on cut fruit and veggies!  ☺

Toigo Orchards – I didn’t buy a jar of bourbon peaches…but I regret it!


Groff’s  Content Farm

I love this photo of Farmer Bob Bolton in his Groffs Content Farm hat, showing off some free range poultry.

Chris’ Marketplace.     I’ve blogged before about Chris’ delicious crabcakes. This time I lunched on the empanadas and gazpacho, which were delicious.  You can see from the pic below that there was quite a line!


The market was so packed, and I was so busy sending tweets, twitpix  etc, that I didn’t get to spend as much time at each stand as I would have liked.  Here I am demonstrating my best Tweeting technique with FRESHFARMs Market co-founder Bernie Prince.


Here are a few stands that I had to rush by:

It was so packed at Firefly Farms that I didn’t get to try any of their artisan cheeses, but it looks fabulous, doesn’t it?


There were so many choices for great cheese – here’s the stand for  Keswick Creamery.


Spring Valley Farm – Spring Valley was actually one of the few stands that resembled a typical farmer’s stand. Tomatoes, apples, greens – nothing too fancy, just simple, great fruits and veggies.


Not all of the stands take credit cards, but Everona Dairy does – and they advertise it prominently.


I don’t eat pork, but if I did, I think this sign from Cedarbrook Farm would have me sold!


And finally, one of the many happy customers I encountered along the way. He was  thrilled to have purchased the last of the carrots from The Farm at Sunnyside.


Hope you enjoyed this “virtual tour” of the newest and perhaps the most famous farmers market in the world!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

Disclosure: As disclosed above (so this is double disclosure), my company, 4GreenPs, was employed to manage FRESHFARM Market’s social media presence at the re-opening of the market, however this was not a paid post. I posted because I was just so darn excited. Wouldn’t you be? It’s great to have such wonderful clients!