Farmers Markets: Buy Fresh, Buy Local

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Farmers Markets: Buy Fresh, Buy Local

Every season, more people are becoming fans of farmers markets, counting them as genuine quality-of-life enhancements in their communities.  In fact, Virginia has nearly 250 across the commonwealth and quite a few of them are in the seven-county area around Charlottesville.

“I’m really proud of our City Market,” says Charlottesville REALTOR ® Cynthia Viejo, an associate broker with Nest Realty Group.  “It’s an integral part of our community and it’s all about supporting local farmers, artists, crafters and entrepreneurs. It really speaks to the high quality of life in our community.”

She loves the “Buy fresh, buy local” bumper stickers she sees all around town. “Wonderful motto,” she declares. “When we shop local, we support our community as a whole and a great place to start is at farmers markets. That money stays right here.”

In fact, a Virginia Cooperative Extension study about seven years ago indicated that if each household in our area spent just $10 of their weekly grocery dollars on fresh local produce and farm-based products, it would boost our five-county economy to the tune of nearly $50 million a year! And it’s likely those figures are higher today. Many related businesses such as orchards, farms, and restaurants benefit from our increasing hunger for locally grown food. 

A special program at Charlottesville’s City Market is the SNAP station (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) where food stamps may be converted to wooden “coins” redeemable for foods to be taken home for preparation. The first ten dollars are doubled so SNAP shoppers get a valuable bonus towards farm-fresh foods. Any shopper who hasn’t brought enough cash—many vendors aren’t equipped to accept debit or credit cards—can use a debit card (for a mere $1 fee) to get tokens to swap with any vendor.

MARKETS HAVE PERSONALITY

Farmers Markets are flourishing throughout Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, and Orange Counties. Charlottesville’s City Market is the largest in Central Virginia, while smaller ones are held in a variety of venues including subdivisions and community parks.  (See listings.)

Every market is different.  Some are shady, some are under tents, some have individual canopies, some have seating. Many regularly have Master Gardeners in attendance offering gardening expertise such as pest identification and recommendations for home gardens.

An especially appealing feature of all these markets is the chance to visit face-to-face with the growers, bakers, cooks and artists. Many markets also have food and beverages to carry home or enjoy on the spot.

Not all items are available at all Farmers Markets all the time. Some vendors participate at only one market, others miss a time now and then, and a number of items are seasonal. As a result, much of the fun is discovering a vendor with special treats.

Here’s a short list of what you might find: produce, often organic, including fruits and veggies. Flowers, plants, honey, preserves, vinegars, eggs, meat, cheese, baked goods, candles, candy, jewelry, sewn items, pottery, woodcrafts, furniture, and soap.

“Our vibrant farmers markets not only add to the economic health of our area,” concludes REALTOR ® Viejo. “They also add to the quality of life here, making Charlottesville and our surrounding counties the place to ‘Live where you love.’”

So this week, plan to visit a Farmers Market near you for fun, fresh produce, and friendly faces.

By: Albemarle County resident Marilyn Pribus loves Charlottesville’s City Market, especially for fresh-baked bread, veggies and plants. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION: The Piedmont Environmental Council maintains a user-friendly, searchable website at www.Pecva.org.  Search options by county include local Farmers Markets, farms and orchards (many offering U-pick fruits and veggies), wineries and breweries, grocers, buyers clubs, local food co-ops, caterers, restaurants and specialty foods. For more information, visit: www.buylocalvirginia.org.  Hardcopy versions are available at a number of places in the area.

Regional Farmers Markets include:

Charlottesville City Market Corner of First St. and Water St., Downtown Contact: Stephanie Anderegg-Maloy  (434) 970·3371 citymarket@charlottesville.org www.charlottesvillecitymarket.com April – October; Saturdays 7 a.m. – noon

Crozet Farmers Market Crozet United Methodist Church parking lot Contact: Al Minutolo  (434) 823·1092 aminutolo@embarqmail.com May 3 – October 18; Saturdays 8 a.m. – noon

Earlysville Farmers Market 4167 Earlysville Road Buck Mountain Episcopal Church Parish Hall parking lot Contact: Wendy Russo  (434) 996·8313 evillefarmersmkt@embarqmail.com www.earlysvillefarmersmarket.wordpress.com May 1 – mid October; Thursdays 4 – 7 p.m.

Eastern Orange Farmers Market Locust Grove Town Center at corner of Route 20 and Route 611 (434) 227-4561 easternorangefarmersmarket@gmail.com Mid-April – October; Sundays 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Farmers in the Park Meade Park on Meade Avenue, Charlottesville Contact: Same as City Market May – September; Wednesdays 3 – 7 p.m.

Forest Lakes Farmers Market, Charlottesville South Recreational Facility on Ashwood Blvd Contact: Alisa Wildman forestlakesmarket@gmail.com Mid-April – late October 29; Tuesdays 4 – 7 p.m.

Fluvanna Farmers Market 1735 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Pleasant Grove, Palmyra Contact: John Thompson (434) 591·1950 jthomp75@vt.edu April – October; Tuesdays 2 – 6 p.m.

Greene County Farmers Market Greene County Technical Education Center, Route 33 Contact: Bob Burkholder (434) 882·1324 Mid-June – late September; Saturdays 8 – 11 a.m.

Louisa Farmers Market 213 E Main Street, Louisa Contact: Mark Bailey (540) 967·1400 louisamarket@gmail.com Memorial Day – Labor Day; Saturdays 8 a.m. – noon

Madison County Farmers Market Hoover Ridge Park on Fairgrounds Rd. (Next to Madison Primary School) (540) 948-6881 bjarvis@vt.edu May – October; Saturdays 8 a.m. –  noon

Mineral Farmers Market, Louisa Avenue Across from the Mineral Town Park Contact: Becky Vigon (540) 854·7626 market@townofmineral.com www.MineralMarket.org May – late October; Saturdays 8 a.m. – noon

Nelson Farmers Market in Downtown Nellysford Route 151, under the big white tent Contact: Bo Holland  (434) 244-2399 www.nelsonfarmersmarket.com April – October; Saturdays 8 a.m. – noon

Orange County Farmers & Artisan Market Faulconer parking lot, Rt. 15 north of Orange (540) 672-2540 director@orangedowntownalliance.org May – November; Wednesdays 11 a.m. – 5 p.m

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