The Great Depression affected parts of the United States invoking images of bread lines, dust bowls, and migration to the cities. In 1932, a group of farm women from the Home Demonstration Club through the University of Maryland in conjunction with USDA and Montgomery County sought a means to alleviate their economic plight. Nineteen women arrived on February 4th to sell goods from the kitchen or garden at 6700 Wisconsin Avenue. The operation worked.
Blanche Corwin leased a building at 4606 Leland Street to hold the market during the summer. The number of sellers increased from 19 to 81 by September. In December 1932, a new building was opened at 7155 Wisconsin Avenue. On Monday, January 22, 1945, at an annual meeting in Rockville, the Board of Directors for the Women’s Farm Market burned the mortgage. This symbolic gesture proved that women are capable of handling their business.
The Montgomery Farm Women’s Market continues that tradition of female entrepreneurship. Chocolatier Sara Dwyer, owner of Chouquette Artisan Chocolates and Confections, sells handmade chocolates. She wanted to be a chocolatier since the age of two. In 2009, she left her job in the banking industry to spend a year in Paris to learn the art of making chocolate. Her bestselling chocolate is the balsamic-infused dark chocolate caramel. It has a combination of bitterness and tanginess which makes it really good. Another chocolate to try is the caramel with Old Bay seasoning. It has a savory and sweet flavor giving the chocolate a kick.
Horticulturists and high school sweethearts Carol and Leon Carrier created Plant Masters in 1978. They grow and sell specialty cut flowers and plants as well as food and handmade goods. During the summer, they sell local flowers and plants. In the winter, it is elsewhere. The soaps they sell come from a friend. The French vanilla biscotti and the cucumber lime yogurt smell so good that you could almost eat them! Their son raises chickens in Washington County and brings them the eggs to sell on Saturdays.
Blanche Corwin probably never could’ve imagined that the Montgomery Farm Women’s Market thrived into the millennium. Women still face discrimination socially and economically, but they continue to make strides in business and commerce.
The Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market 7155 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814, 301.652.2291 Wed., Fri., & Sat. 8:00am - 4:00pm http://www.farmwomensmarket.com/