Last week I was so excited about our first new farm stand location in five years that I posted a teaser on Facebook which read, “BIG NEWS, Coming Soon.” I watched the post light up with comments and likes and began feeling this was a good sign. It wasn’t until the phone started ringing that I realized people thought we had actually purchased the historic property otherwise known as the “Bethesda Community Store”. All of a sudden my “BIG” news was dwarfed and overshadowed by truly substantial assumptions. To set the record straight I thought I’d write this blog.
Getting right to the point, we are adding a new stand location at the corner of Old Georgetown and Greentree Road beside the Bethesda Community Store beginning in June. I am excited to operate this as the “Showroom” of our farm, or Norman’s museum of sorts. I’m looking forward to strumming my guitar on the front porch, and talking shop with customers about food and farming. A place that neighborhood kids can head for fresh berries, or a slice of melon, and get a taste of summer. Although it will be our fourth location it is also centrally located amongst the other three so I will be able to spend quality time and make it my special project. We will setup on the patio beside the building and be open daily from 9am to 6pm through October.
I am excited to open this new location in part because of my affinity for the old building and its history. It is considered one of the oldest existing commercial structures in Bethesda. Built in 1924 to replace an even older store house from 1892. Our mom used to frequent Brown’s Store, as it was known back in the 1940’s and she was one of those kids from yesterday that would head to the market for penny candy and a soda pop. As I frequently drive past on my way to the stands, I think of it as an old familiar friend. Its throwback nostalgic facade and I, tip our hats and acknowledge each other, and I’ve often hoped that someday our paths would cross.
I grew up in Montgomery County and have been running markets for my entire adult life. So I appreciate the Community Store’s landmark stubbornness and resistance to change amidst the rapidly evolving backdrop of Bethesda. In fact I identify with it. I’ve seen farms become subdivisions and local chains, such as Fresh Fields and Sutton Place Gourmet, get swallowed up by larger and larger fish. I’ve operated dozens of farm stands over the years whose pristine sites have been bulldozed and replaced by new homes, mixed use developments and even the ICC. High school kids I’ve employed have grown and pursued other professions. Alongside the old Community Store I’ve witnessed all this change through a fixed lens and the vantage point of Norman’s Farm Market.
So look for us this summer, at our new digs in downtown Bethesda with easy pullover access and ample gravelled parking. The perfect union of body and spirit, two Bethesda institutions, the historic landmark of the Community Store and the nomadic energy of Norman’s, that have both endured the test of time and continue to offer something unique, and genuine to the public.