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Farmers Markets prepare to open

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

Most Fredericksburg-area farmers markets will open for business this month, welcoming shoppers to stroll through parking lots, parks and other locations temporarily converted to displays of the colorful bounty offered by local farms.

Farmers markets have been growing in popularity nation-wide, and they’re a place to shed the cold anonymity that sometimes comes with grocery store produce shopping. Neighbors greet each other and the workers at their favorite farm stand each Saturday, cultivating relationships as the growing season progresses.

Several markets have new features this year.

Spotsylvania will be starting a new Wednesday-afternoon market at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center. Fredericksburg plans to close the block of Prince Edward Street between William and George streets to expand its Hurkamp Park market on the first Saturdays of June, July and September. The city’s popular “Family Table” festival, including activities intended to get kids interested in the food growing around them, will return the week of Aug. 4. The city is also working on plans for fuller weekday markets on Wednesdays and some Tuesdays.

Markets in Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and King George counties will continue to offer tokens that allow credit card customers and SNAP benefit recipients to use the market. Thanks to a federal grant, this program also allows a number of SNAP customers to double their money, up to a $10 limit, on market purchases.

Market shopping is an education in the sequence of seasonal produce. Treats like asparagus, strawberries, tomatoes and apples roll out as the growing season progresses. While that means everything isn’t available all the time, it does simplify menu planning. Just remember to eat your fill of asparagus, peas and strawberries in these early spring months, and save room for the heartier summer fare as the days get hotter.

Culpeper Farmers Market

Where: East Davis Street and Commerce Street parking lot in downtown Culpeper

Open: Saturdays starting April 28 – Nov. 17, 7:30 a.m. to noon

What: Goods must be home-grown or hand-made within a 75-mile radius. Market

manager visits farms to verify.

Fredericksburg City Farmers Market

Where: Hurkamp Park, at Prince Edward and George streets

Open: 7 AM – 4 PM, Monday through Saturday; 12:30PM to 4:00PM, Sunday; managed season begins April 21.

What: 75 percent of goods must come from within a 75-mile radius of the market; 25 percent may come from elsewhere in the USA, but must be pre-approved and clearly labeled.

Eastern Orange County Farmers Market

Where: Locust Grove Town Center, intersection of State Routes 20 and 611

Open: Sundays, starting April 29, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

What: Goods must be grown or produced within 100 miles of Orange County, in Virginia; site visits required of all vendors.

Orange County Farmers and Artisans Market

Where: Off Madison Road, at the shopping center across the street from Hardee’s, in front of Faulkner Hardware

Open: Saturdays, May 5 through Oct. 27, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

What: Goods must be grown or made in Virginia. Market will offer crafts as well as food this year.

Mineral Farmers Market

Where: 81 Louisa Ave. in Mineral, across from the Little League field

Open: Saturdays, May 5 through Oct. 17, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

What: Fresh fruit, veggies, jams, flowers, plants, wine, honey, baked goods and local crafts on display.

Bowling Green Community Farmers Market

Where: Front lawn of Union First Market Bank, on Main Street in downtown Bowling Green

Open: Saturdays, March 17 through Oct. 27, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; a grand opening festival will be held April 21

What: Goods must be grown or produced within a 75-mile radius of Bowling Green.

Spotsylvania Five-Mile Fork Farmers Market

Where: Commuter lot at State Route 3 and Gordon Road

Open: Saturdays, April 21 through Dec. 15, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

What: Goods must be grown or produced within a 100-mile radius, in Virginia.

Weekday Market at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center

Where: Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center

Open: Wednesdays, starting May 16, from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.

What: Goods must be grown or produced within a 100-mile radius, in Virginia.

King George County Farmers Market

Where: King George Elementary School, at the intersection of state routes 3 and 205

Open: Saturdays starting April 28, 8 a.m. to noon

What: Goods must be grown or produced within King George County or Westmoreland County; site visits required of vendors. Market includes a “kids’ space” each week, and community days with special activities occur on every first Saturday, June through October.