BERLIN — Bill and Ginger Taylor have inarguably the shortest commute to the Berlin Farmers Market, where they set up their seafood stand each Wednesday and Friday.
The Berlin couple live blocks away from the market and got into the seafood retail business as part of preparing for Bill’s imminent retirement.
Bill, who has spent the last 60 years “foolin’ with seafood” said that when they began looking for an opportunity coming to the Berlin Farmers Market seemed to make the most sense. As retailers, they don’t have to go to the boat to get their fresh seafood, it comes to them fresh before each of their market days. They sell from the Salisbury Farmers Market Saturdays but never miss their Wednesday and Friday gigs at Berlin. Although the market remains open into the late afternoon, so successful do the vendors tend to be that there wasn’t much left after 1 p.m. one recent Friday, which vendors said it’s peculiar for this time of year.
“This town is very, very supportive of the Farmers Market,” said Paul Wood, who makes the trip from Parsonsburg each Wednesday and Friday to participate, and has for the last two decades. “We see the same people over and over.”
Along with his wife Susan, Wood provides herbs, fresh flowers in hanging baskets and eggs as part of their weekly supply.
The couple participates in the Ocean City Farmers Market as well but they have developed relationships in the Berlin Farmers Market that demand their two-day-a-week attendance.
Because they receive such great support from the locals, the Woods have come to see taking care of them as their primary concern.
“The core of this market is Berlin local people,” Susan said.
It was a sentiment echoed throughout the market as vendor after vendor discussed how important selling to the locals has become.
Elise Jett, who is one of the few vendors selling prepared food, is entering her second year in the Berlin Farmers Market and the steady sales have already allowed her to begin growing her business. Jett and her mother, Maggie Koch, sell breads, preserves and other confections they produce on their Parsonsburg farm.Although they try to use only ingredients they grow, demand is such that they often have to make purchases to keep up with demand.
“What we don’t grow we buy from other local farmers,” Jett said.
She added that a lot of the time she can make up the difference between what she’s grown and what she needs right at the Berlin Farmers Market, making her a customer as well as a colleague to many of the other vendors.
The Berlin Farmers Market has a combination of niche purveyors as well as enough regular producers to ensure both sustained quality and variety.
Terry Jordan, for instance, tends to specialize in greens and flowers, although as the season moves forward she will expand her selection.
This year Jordan has increased both the number and amount of micro-greens she grows to sell. Micro-greens are becoming more popular with chefs — Leo D’Aleo from the Atlantic Hotel is a regular customer — because they occupy the space between sprouts and herbs.
By harvesting the plants after they have grown past the sprout stage but before they have matured they have the perfect balance of flavor and tenderness both as salad additives and on their own as spices.
Dave and Cheryl Wiley, in their third year at the Berlin Farmers Market, have also developed a niche following. In addition to their certified organic tomatoes and herbs, the Selbyville, Del. couple also grows and sells topiary.
The Berlin Farmers Market is open 2-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Fridays on the corner of Main and West Street, near the Taylor House Museum. It is administered by the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, specifically new Market Manger and Chamber employee Liz Walk. Walk has only been running the market for the Chamber for a few months but has already brought a new sense of organization and stability to an already reliable market.
She can be reached at 410-641-4775 or through berlinchamber.org.