A farmers market blooms in Mayfield
Former Fredericksburg City Councilman Ambrose Bailey was the first customer when the new farmers market in Mayfield opened on Thursday.
He was hoping to find peaches and wasn’t disappointed.
Bailey’s uncle, Mayfield Civic Association board member James Bailey, was one of the driving forces in bringing the market to the community along Dixon Street.
“I’m excited that we finally got it through,” James Bailey said as people bustled about the stand, picking up fresh green beans, tomatoes, onions and ears of corn.
They were also eyeing the cantaloupes, watermelons, peaches, peppers, squash, cut flowers and a few live plants.
“We have a lot of older people who can’t get very far,” James Bailey said. “We’re trying to make it accessible to those older people and to the community.”
Fliers were distributed throughout Mayfield ahead of Thursday’s launch. And local churches also had helped spread the word.
“We’re looking at it from a health point of view,” Bailey added. “That was the main issue as far as I was concerned.”
Mayfield was selected for a market because it’s identified by the federal government as one of the region’s “food deserts.” The term refers to low-income communities where at least one-third of the residents live more than a mile from a supermarket or large grocery store.
The idea is to provide access to fresh, healthy food in those areas, said Gayle Price, one of Fredericksburg’s two farmers market managers.
She noted that it’s a long distance from Mayfield to the Food Lion along State Route 2 or into downtown to Nader’s Grocery. She also noted that people who might like to visit the downtown farmers market are hampered because the FRED buses don’t operate on Saturdays.
The Thursday option at Mayfield is meant to help ease that burden.
Customers there can make purchases with cash, credit cards, debit cards and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cards, which replaced food stamps.
People who use SNAP at the farmers market benefit from a matching program. They receive $10 in free tokens for spending that amount with their SNAP cards.
The matching tokens can be used anytime at any of the region’s markets that make up The Farmers Market.Co. That includes the Fredericksburg Market at Hurkamp Park, the King George Market at King George Elementary, and all three Spotsylvania markets. Stafford markets are not part of the organization.
Spotsylvania has markets at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, at Courthouse Village and at the commuter lot on State Route 3 at Gordon Road.
The Fredericksburg Market at Hurkamp Park operates from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
The Mayfield market will have one vendor its first year, Alvarez Produce from Warsaw, whose staff is bilingual. The hope is that more vendors will be added next year if the Mayfield site is a success.
The Mayfield market will be open Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. through Sept. 26.
Based on its location along Dixon and Tyler streets, and hours that coincide with people heading home from work, James Bailey said it’s positioned for success.
Within the first hour on Thursday, it had already seen customers from outside of Mayfield. Leslie Campbell of Spotsylvania had driven downtown, hoping to pick up items at the Hurkamp Park market but got there too late.
When she spotted the Mayfield location as she headed home, she was ecstatic and pulled over.
She left with multiple bags of fresh produce and said she’ll be back.
“Definitely,” the James Monroe High School teacher said. “I’ll be a regular.”
PRODUCE STANDS EXPAND IN AREA
The city of Fredericksburg opened a new farmers market in the Mayfield community on Thursday. It will operate Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. through September. It is located at Dixon and Tyler streets.
The market at Hurkamp Park is open Mondays through Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Spotsylvania County has three markets, and Stafford and King George counties each have one.
The market at King George Elementary operates from 8 a.m. to noon, Saturdays through Nov. 16.
Spotsylvania operates a market at the commuter lot on State Route 3 at Gordon Road from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays until Dec. 21. The winter market is open from 9 a.m. to noon the second Saturday of January, February and March.
A market at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center operates from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Oct. 9.
A market at Spotsylvania Courthouse Village, 9010 Old Battlefield Blvd., operates from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 10, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 12.
The market at Stafford Hospital, which isn’t part of The Farmers Market.Co, is open Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. through October.
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972