The last couple of Saturdays in a row, I have been lucky enough to get out and make it to my local farmer’s market. There are two farmer’s markets in Fredericksburg- one is downtown and one is on Route 3 in the commuter lot not too far from where I live. I have never been the market downtown, and I don’t feel the need to because the Spotsylvania market is great!
This photo was taken close to one end of the market, and you can see it’s pretty big. Because they hold it in the commuter lot, there’s lots of space to work with and tons of parking, which is great because there are crowds of people there every week.
The hours are Saturdays from 8 AM till 1 PM, but you do need to go a little earlier in the day to get the best selection. Many of the bakery products are almost completely gone before noon. There is a gourmet ice cream truck (with reasonable prices) and an iced tea stand (loose leaf teas). A couple of herb and plant sellers have pre-made bouquets and potted plants. There are a couple different meat sellers, including Papa Weaver’s Pork Products. Papa Weaver’s products are awesome, and they always have samples to taste. I love their hot dogs, even though they are expensive. But their other products are well priced, and often fall in the same range that you would find in a grocery store. And there are always lots of fruit and vegetable sellers. There really is such a variety, including people selling honey, jams, barbeque sauce, goat cheeses and cow cheeses, and more. The best part is, they also accept SNAP benefits so anyone can shop there.
There are so many good things about this market, and the best news is that it runs from late April through most of December. What a long season! Granted, towards the end of the year, the number of vendors dwindles down quite a bit, but you still typically have meats, cheeses, and the late blooming vegetables. The rise of the local farmer has led to an increase in variety of plants, and I think more interest in eating plants year round. I hope to see more people with new varieties the later it gets. In reading the Spotsylvania Farmers Market Blog, I see that this year they had a few select dates that were open in the winter months. Hopefully that will happen again this next year!
There were some real head turners in the last few visits- some vegetables I had never even heard of before. Rainbow Swiss Chard is a new variety for me. It was so colorful and beautiful! I did not play with the picture at all! Another variety I had never seen was black okra:
Some of the vendors have such beautiful displays. A lot of them group their tomatoes by color:
I had never seen these varieties of eggplants before, but there were many of them in several stalls. Guess how many are in this picture:
The answer is ….
It really heartens me to see so many people shopping at the Farmers Market. I recently watched “Fresh” a documentary on small sustainable farming. I hope that the tide really is turning and not only will people start eating more locally (and fresh!) but that we can make it a strong, economically viable way of life. My stepson complains that it’s very difficult for him to buy good, fresh and local foods because they are so much more expensive than processed foods up in Northern Virginia. I truly think though, if we could instead of subsidizing large monoculture farms, subsidize the smaller farms we could really make it attainable for anyone in this country. There are a lot of opinions floating around out there on farming, and I am by no means an expert. But I do think that we can do better in farming, and that we could even bring more jobs back to this country by investing in and increasing the number of smaller farms.
On September 15, Mr. Lucky and I plan on going to the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello. We think it’s pretty cool that we can spend a whole day at Thomas Jefferson’s estate and go to lectures and demonstrations and see vendors and learn about sustainable farming.
More information on the markets, and other markets nearby can be found here: http://www.thefarmersmarket.co/