“Five hundred people came to the Rose Park Farmer’s Market last Wednesday,” exclaimed Gail Daubert, new president of the Friends of Rose Park, during a Georgetowner interview on July 31. “That’s astounding!”
New vendors, enthusiastic young volunteers — including teenagers who are maintaining the market’s Instagram and Facebook accounts — and a community-friendly configuration have reenergized the market, located in Georgetown’s Rose Park at 27th Street NW between P and O. Now set up in a large circle with good social-distancing and mingling space in the middle, the market is open from 3 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday, weather permitting.
“New vendors are contacting us regularly now to find out how to join the market,” Daubert said. “We have gone from five vendors along the sidewalk to now 15, including a partnership with the Georgetown Main Street organization, that will sponsor each week an introductory vendor spot for a small Georgetown business to feature their products, and a table for a different nonprofit organization.”
New vendors will be added to the 11 regulars this week. La Jolie Bleue (Mediterranean savory and sweet pastries), Gardens and Pots (pottery), Vordonia Athenolia (olive oil), Scilla + Luna, selling curated handcrafts, and Taim Falafel.
Current vendors include: Anchor Nursery, BannerBee, Cannabreeze, Cipolla Rossa Pizzeria, Lobster Maine-ia, Metro Microgreens, Pearl Fine Teas, Pickled Heads, Quaker Valley Orchards, Roots & Veggies and Versatile Foods Catering.
Several of the vendors listed on the Rose Park Farmer’s Market website offer online preordering options — Lobster Maine-ia’s and Cipolla Rossa Pizzeria’s have been especially popular, according to David Dunning, past president of the Friends.
“Since this week is National Farmers Market Week, we are going to be giving away prizes donated by the vendors in a lottery,” said Market Manager Allister Chang. “Tickets for $1 each will be sold at the market entrance.” Chang, a researcher at the UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning, lives across the street. He is one of nearly a dozen new volunteers of all ages who live within 10 blocks of the market.
“We see the market not only as a safe place to shop but also as a place to create a sense of community during this pandemic and beyond. I am continually asking shoppers during the market what vendors they would like to see included,” said Chang, who is running for the Ward 2 seat on the D.C. State Board of Education.
Many things have changed since the state of emergency was called by the mayor on March 13, which even shut down the outdoor farmer’s markets for a while. Now, not only does every vendor have to be licensed and have insurance, but the market has to follow strict guidelines regarding masks, social distancing and traffic control.
“The market is a place that can help our community be together, a gathering place to shop and see one another even in today’s crazy world,” Daubert said.
The Friends of Rose Park, which runs the market, is an increasingly active neighborhood organization responsible for the maintenance of the rose garden and trees in the park. The group also provides support for projects to upgrade the paths, tables and amenities and to hold community events, from concerts and movies to children’s activities.
“We want to keep it small and friendly,” said Daubert, a health-care attorney who lives next to the park on M Street. “Probably no more than 20 vendors. People tell me all the time, ‘Don’t become another Dupont Circle market.’”