About a week after I moved to Washington from New York, one of my new neighbors invited me to come with her on a grocery shopping expedition. But we did not go to Safeway or Giant. Instead, she introduced me to a magical place, the Bethesda Farm Women's Cooperative, that has become one of my favorite hunting and gathering spots.
The market is located at 7155 Wisconsin Avenue, just above Leland Street, and about a mile north of the District line. And there is plenty of metered parking in the adjacent public lot.
Since the 1930's, local farm women have been bringing their pies, jams, meats and vegetables to the Bethesda Farm Women's Cooperative to sell them. From the beginnings, it was wildly successful, and within a few years, the cooperative was able to buy the building where they still operate today.
In the beginning, you had to make it, raise it or bake it yourself to sell your wares, and most of the indoor stalls still meet that standard. In the spaces outdoors, however, there are many imported goods, vintage costume jewelry and other not so local items - although they are still fun to browse.
There are jams like they taught us to make in high school home ec, amazing local cheeses, meet from creatures that were in the barnyard or pasture until a day ago (once, to my horror, I discovered that the steak I just bought had had a name - yikes!), and baked goods that look and smell heavenly.
And as apple season arrives, the ciders (which often have a bit of a kick). The fruits and vegetables are all local, extremely fresh, and delicious.
There are flowers that are just beautiful - fresh cut, dried or potted and ready to plant.
The market is open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and the best time to go is Saturday morning - and I suggest getting there early, before the really good stuff is gone!