At one time, the corner of First and R streets, Northwest, was one the most dangerous spots in the city. Now it’s got a buzzing coffee shop (Big Bear Cafe) and a Sunday farmers market, and after much fundraising, it hosted its first annual “Haitian Invasion” pig roast earlier this month—something the community hopes will become an annual tradition. Neighbors gathered for 150 pounds of free-range piggy from Maryland-based Truck Patch Farm, one of the regular vendors at the Bloomingdale farmers market. The meat was sandwiched between fluffy ciabatta rolls from Breadline, another weekend vendor. As neighbors munched, a 50-piece classical Haitian chorus from Port Au Prince performed.
Bloomingdale community leaders John Salatti, Ted McGinn, and Stu Davenport spent months generating buzz for the pig roast among neighbors. The three helped raise $1,200 for the roast which was free to visitors.
McGinn, formerly head chef at Kelly’s Irish Times, assumed the roll of Official Pig Roaster—he even studied ancient Native American meat-smoking practices. Along with neighbors (and fancy power tools), McGinn built an open pit with found cinder blocks and metal scraps. He spent much of his time during the event spraying down the oinker with apple-cider vinegar and sprinkling it with allspice from Takoma Park’s Caribbean Market, his “one-stop shop for all things island.”
The celebration was part of a Bloomingdale-wide effort to bring fresh food and energy to the community, which lies east of Second Street and north of Florida Avenue, Northwest. You could say the Caribbean theme had something to do with Davenport’s Haitian roots—he hung flags inside Big Bear for weeks—but as Robin Shuster points out (she also directs the 14th & U and Mount Pleasant farmers markets), “there’s a heartbeat within this community that can no longer be ignored.” She had her clipboard out that morning, urging attendees to sign-up for weekly reminders about the Sunday market.
Though you’ll have to wait until next year for another pig roast, you can still take in the Bloomingdale Farmers Market, (First and R streets, Northwest) until late November. Here’s a look at the vendors who set up shop there every Sunday from 10 AM to 2 PM. And as regulars have figured out, the after-party is always at the Big Bear Cafe couches next door.
Buchanan Valley, Pennsylvania
What it sells: Apples galore, which also means tons of ciders. Tables are covered with funkily shaped yellow, green, and red heirloom tomatoes, too.
The back story: Reid’s grows 75 varieties of apple—some, like the Newtown Pippin or Baldwin variety, have been growing since the 1700s. Lady apples date back to the 1600s. It’s a very family-oriented business, with two sisters and a brother running the show. They’re still working on a Web site.
What it sells: A huge variety of certified organic veggies like tomatoes (four acres worth), chard, squash and eggplant, plus such potted herbs as basil, lavender, and oregano.
The back story: Sunnyside, located near the Inn at Little Washington, isn’t just organic. It’s Oregon Tilth Certified Organic (OCTCO), which means the farm adheres to even stricter agricultural standards. As a sign explains, their apples may look spotted and dull (thanks to chemical- and dye-free standards) but they swear this doesn't compromise the juiciness or yumminess factor.
Washington, DC (1751 Pennsylvania Ave, NW)
What it sells: Criss-crossed stacks of baguettes, plain or a sun-dried-tomato version, ciabatta rolls, sourdough boules, and walnut-wheat bread. Breakfast treats include ginger scones, croissants, pain au chocolat, and bagels.
The back story: During the work week, lunchers flock to the Pennsylvania Avenue bakery-cum-deli for oyster po’boys and other daily specials. On weekends the French-speaking pair Jean Luc (he’s working on his English) and Hanadi (a doctor by trade) sell the bakery’s breads at the market.
New Asbury Farm
What it sells: Lamb in many forms: shank, rib-rack, sage-infused sausage, kabob meat, burger-ready ground lamb—the list goes on.
The back story: Owners Bill and Joan Baker custom-butcher the lamb, which is raised on meadows behind their Leesburg home. They like to print off recipes from the American Lamb Board's website, available each week at their table.
7th Street Garden
Washington, DC (Seventh St., NW, between P & Q Streets)
What it sells: Mung bean sprouts, lima bean sprouts, basil, rosemary, and thyme.
The back story: This nonprofit garden teaches hands-on classes in urban food production, especially to low-income residents who help till the land.
Truck Patch Farm
Union Bridge, Maryland
What it sells: Free-range pork, plus buckets of arugula, spinach, and other salad greens.
The back story: Oinkers are raised outside and fed gourmet goat’s milk whey. Not a bad piggy diet.