What started as a way for women to earn income during the Great Depression has evolved into a larger cooperative serving the community of Bethesda for 90 years.
The Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market at 7155 Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda will celebrate its dedication to the Bethesda community with a Harvest and Halloween party from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
The celebration will include a petting farm, music, face painting, a costume contest, a planting demonstration, a pumpkin patch, swag bags, kid trick-or-treat bags, trick-or-treating, food for purchase and shopping from local vendors, according to its website.
The market began in 1932 as a cooperative for a small group of women to earn money for their families as many men worked on farms. Although the market was originally open to only women, men starting vending at the market in the 1970s, according to Charlena Edge, the market’s assistant manager.
Edge operates a stand at the market for her business Obsidian Organics and said she gained a lot of insight as a participant in its community.
“[The market has] given me a start for my business. It’s let me have trial and error as I develop my products, as I learn how to sell and the customers have given me a lot of feedback,” she said. “My product is very different from what it was 18 months ago just because people were willing to share what they thought would help me out.”
Some of the market’s vendors include Windy Hill Produce, Mark Moxley Wooden Bowls, Ray Renn’s Farm Stand, Hardy’s Barbecue, La Bohemia Bakery, Simply Delicious Desserts and Swings Coffee Roasters.
According to Edge, the celebration is also being held in honor of the previous assistant manager, Ray Renn, who died on Tuesday.
“This was supposed to be a celebration, he was very excited about it,” she said. “We’ll probably do a memorial service in a couple weeks but we just have to get through [Saturday] and honor the legacy of the market because there have been people that pass away and then new people come but I think that’s the uniqueness of it – somehow it continues to survive despite members changing in whatever is going on socially or economically.”
Edge said there has also been a GoFundMe created to help Renn’s family.
Those attending the celebration are welcome to bring canned or shelf-stable food items to donate to the Capital Area Food Bank following the event.