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Farmers markets add vendors


Elizabeth Borst was interested in opening a weekday farmers market in Spotsylvania County when the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center made her an offer.

Borst, the Spotsylvania Farmers Market manager, could use the hospital’s parking lot on Wednesdays and it would help promote the new market.

“That connection between healthy food and community health is very important,” she said. “I think this is a very good way to demonstrate that.”

The market will hold its grand opening at 3 p.m. May 16. Matt Lohr, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, will be the keynote speaker.

“We really want folks from Massaponax to come out,” Borst said. “We know people will only travel so far for a farmers market, and by going to them, we’ll meet a lot of folks’ needs.”

The new market will have about 16 vendors, including Mount Olympus Farm in Ruther Glen and Westmoreland Berry Farm in Oak Grove. It will be open from 3 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays through Sept. 26.

Spotsylvania’s other farmers market, which opened last Saturday at the commuter lot on Gordon Road, will have several new vendors this year

as well. They include the Abner Butterfield Ice Cream Co., which will be selling locally made frozen treats in such flavors as banana, black cherry and honey mead vanilla.

Spotsylvania’s new location and new vendors are among a number of different offerings on tap this year for Fredericksburg-area farmers markets, most of which opened last weekend or will open soon.

The Fredericksburg Farmers Market, for example, added several new vendors when it opened last Saturday along two sides of Hurkamp Park.

Among them are Everona Dairy in Rapidan, which is known for its award-winning sheep’s milk cheeses; Sweet Valley Farm Dairy in Elkwood, which makes fresh farm cheese; and Walnut Hills Farm at Elm Spring in Sumerduck, which sells grass-fed beef, lamb and pork, as well as free-range chicken, duck, goose and heritage turkeys. Several bakeries, including Bella Buttercream in Spotsylvania, are participating as well.

“We’re pushing to get a milk vendor,” said Gayle Price, one of the Fredericksburg Farmers Market’s two managers. “Our primary goal is to make this a one-stop shop where people can get great seafood, meat, bread, butter and cheese. There’s no need to schlep anywhere else to get your groceries.”

The market also will expand its popular Family Table event from one day to the first Saturdays in June, July and August. The event is designed mainly to teach children about local and seasonal produce, but offers something to please everyone.

On Family Table days, the block of Prince Edward Street next to Hurkamp Park will be closed to traffic so vendors can line both sides of the street. Price is working with the city to have alcohol restrictions removed so that local wines could be available for sale.

The market also is expanding the days it will sell tokens to people who want to use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits at the market. Tokens also may be charged to a credit card

for a small fee.

When the King George Farmers Market opens Saturday, it will include vendors from Westmoreland County for the first time. Six will be there, including Sissons Produce and Land and Sea Farms, which will be selling fish, crabs and oysters.

That will bring the total number of vendors at the market to 24, said DeLaura Padovan, the market manager. She said many favorite King George County vendors will be returning, and there will be several new ones, including C&T Produce and Haw Hill Gardens, a berry grower.

The King George Farmers Market also will provide an informal activities area for children most Saturdays, and a community day the first Saturday of each month when community organizations, nonprofits and artisans can sell things; and it will be a stop on the Northern Neck Farm Tour on May 12.

The Culpeper Downtown Farmers Market will include several new entries among its 40 vendors when it opens at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at East Davis and Commerce streets. They’ll include North Cove Mushrooms, which grows shiitakes on oak chip logs in Brightwood.

The Orange County Farmers Market will be in a new location and will include the juried work of artisans for the first time when it holds its grand opening at 8 a.m. May 5 in the parking lot of Faulconer’s Hardware, 197 Madison Road.

The new location is in the heart of the town of Orange and has plenty of parking, said Zach Darnell, one of the market’s managers. Adding the artisans will help expand the market and draw a wider range of customers.

“We just love the fact that you can talk to the person who produced each thing,” he said. “You don’t get that at Walmart.”

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407