Eris Norman grew up surrounded by abundant, fresh foods. Every summer, the family traveled to her mother’s Israeli homeland. For two months, her grandmother’s kitchen was central to Eris’ life. Salads and cakes, homemade chicken soup and (forbidden, but delicious) coffee, her Israeli life was filled with spontaneous get-togethers made even more memorable by outstanding meals.
When Eris met John Norman, it was a smart match. John has a passion for fresh foods, too. Even in high school and college, John and his brother Jeff were bringing fresh corn, tomatoes, melons and more to the DC area, selling from a humble farm stand outside their grandparents’ home on River Road.
Now, twelve years later and married with two children (Jocelyn, 11, and Dylan, 9), Eris and John along with brother Jeff have grown Norman’s Farm Market to three bustling locations—Chevy Chase, Bethesda and Rockville—serving more than 1,000 CSA (community-supported agriculture) members. The CSA has helped the Normans change their business model, providing support during the off-months and encouraging their own farming plans.
The Normans own a small (five-acre) farm in Woodbine, MD, where they grow a good portion of what they sell, but they maintain dozens of relationships with other local growers, too. It’s from these growers that the family sources orchard fruits and other specialty items they do not currently grow themselves.
The farm stands open in late spring with fresh greens and peas, strawberries and a few garden plants, and by mid-summer they’re overflowing with corn, tomatoes, zucchini, melons, eggplants, peppers and every other type of summer produce. They’ll be selling right up to Thanksgiving, including holiday turkeys, winter squash, root vegetables, greens, apples and pears.
Despite the demands of running the farm stands, the family still finds time to sit down to dinner together most nights. It’s not unusual for the entire meal to come from the market. Eris and Jocelyn “lean towards vegetarian [eating],” says John, so “dishes are influenced from many different cultures.”
The Normans’ energy is boundless. Eris runs a health and wellness consulting business, helping individuals adopt new habits. And John is a guitar-playing, song-writing Renaissance man who spends the off-season playing concerts at local restaurants.
Memories of Rosh Hashanah celebrations in Israel add seasoning to Eris’ holiday planning. She puts as many healthy foods on her table as possible—salads and other dishes made from the fruits and vegetables at the stands that day. And she slices plenty of fresh, crisp apples to dip in honey: her favorite is the tart Honey Crisp or Braeburn. John leans more toward the late-season Gold Rush with great crunch and a lot of flavor. And the honey? Jim Fraser, a Montgomery County beekeeper, has hives located at many local farms. His Highland Honey is harvested right down the street from the Norman farm.
“For each Jewish holiday, I love all the foods,” says Eris, with a grin.
With Eris’ dedication to healthy, fresh foods and John’s passion for growing the best vegetables, you can bet they are making beautiful music together.