PRINCESS ANNE, Maryland— Turn off Highway 13. Slip between the thick green shoulders of brush and foliage. A team of organizers hope to have created a different world to discover.
Walking up the loose gravel driveway, visitors watch a grassy field unfold towards long rows of chicken coops. For a moment, the brown-to-burgundy structures might look like thousands of others once abandoned on the east coast. But a more in-depth investigation, past the flowery gardens and the stalls of collection products, gives way to music and laughter coming from an old wooded henhouse.
Coops to Co-ops may be tucked away next to Peggy Neck Road, but budding company Princess Anne is hoping to deliver a new experience of sustainable living, connection to nature, and community culture.
From yoga classes and edible plant walks, to pottery workshops and a festival vibe, this passionate group of “wild edible enthusiasts” can at times find it difficult to put words to their own vision.
“So far we have a farmers market, where we have all the local vendors,” said organizer Amanda Elyse Grames, shaded by leafy plants surrounding her wicker chair.
The outfit, now in its second year, began by supporting local artists and welcoming vendors who create and sell their own products. Rows of tables, items, and new faces now wrap both sides of the first co-op section.
“We have an apothecary who follows this,” continued the mother of two. “We have loose herbs, and it’s also a vegan grocery store for loose foods, such as nuts and hemp hearts, flowers, and beans.”
Passing the small shopping section, a stroll down the straw corridor leads to a play area for the smaller co-op visitors, offering puzzles and games on small tables and a full kitchen for the kids.
With parents browsing tea, local art or tarot card reading, kids making mud pies or playing table tennis, an even longer walk would lead to the Market Swap Shop. There, customers are encouraged to browse the free clothes and furniture, as well as drop off their own to add to the cycle.
Another winding path leads to the Healing Center, a redesigned structure that once served as a pig pen, now offering free yoga among other services throughout the day.
The entire board is open every Saturday, with the greatest turnout on the first Saturday of each month. But with hundreds of members, the team of just under a dozen families hope to see the vision grow.
“The more energy you have in a space,” said Grames, “the more it can expand.”
More than a market
Janet and Jeff Phillips became vegans almost ten years ago.
In 2018, the couple bought the property where Coops to Co-ops is now located.
“With all these chicken coops and stuff,” Janet said, growling through a smile. “I just wanted people to see, in terms of making money, there are other things you can do that are more eco-friendly, and mindful, and fun, exciting and creative.
“So we just rolled up our sleeves and got busy.”
Phillips and Grames both described the market as a safe place to relax on a hot afternoon, but from there the two organizers see the envisioned farmer co-op as a place to take lessons on how to conduct as well. a more sustainable way of life.
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“I teach wild, edible and medicinal plants because they grow everywhere for free,” Phillips said. “And then I got into the raw vegan stuff… The point again is to invite people to see their eating habits in a way that is better for themselves and for the environment.”
Their team’s vision board is jam-packed.
Grames hopes to see the property’s additional chicken coops transformed into greenhouses, in an effort to further supply the fresh market. She wants to see a physical store built on the property, allowing members to buy organic and local produce in bulk, at lower prices.
Currently, membership is free and allows for certain food, dining, and related experiences when visiting the market on Saturdays. The organizers hope that this model will evolve.
Grames said she would also like to incorporate ways for others to live or stay on the property and help with the business. The couple also mentioned the possibility of hosting festivals or other Princess Anne events.
“She sees it in the long term, like 10 years from now, showing people new systems that exist as a human,” Grames said of Janet’s goals. “Just a place to rest and be yourself. It’s the first thing I heard on Saturdays: ‘I can just come here and be who I am. I have nothing to change. I can let my madness run free. “
Even with peaceful greenery surrounding it, Grames said the atmosphere the team hopes to create is hard to explain.
“Sometimes that doesn’t make sense until you’re around,” she said, voices of children and families filling the air between her words. “You have to be in that space, and then you’re like, ‘Oh. Those were the words she was trying to associate with that idea, that vision, that thought.’ “
If you are going to
What: Cooperatives to Cooperatives Farmer’s Market
Or: 31140 Peggy Neck Road, Princess Anne
When: from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., every Saturday, with extended hours and entertainment on the first Saturday of each month.