Virginians have farmed since the creation of the country. It was the Virginia soil that gave rise to the Jamestown economy, which in turn formed the states and the nation. Before that, Native American farmers utilized the fertile earth to feed their tribes for generations. Today Virginians have adapted that age-old tradition through our various farmers markets all over the state. Buy your food from the people who make it at any one of the following markets.
Open year-round on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon, the Shore Drive farmers market welcomes vendors from all over Hampton Roads. Their Facebook page is constantly updated with a preview of the weekend’s offerings. The market isn’t just for local farms. It’s also a frequent fundraising place for youth sports teams and other organizations. Shore Drive is lucky to have them!
The Chesapeake Farmers Market is seasonal and is usually open by mid-June and closed just before Thanksgiving. But with three different locations all “promoting locally grown produce,” the food is always fresh. The Chesapeake markets are focused on produce, but offer other options as well.
This market is in the central hub of Old Towne Alexandria. Open year-round from 7 a.m. to noon, the market is held right in Market Square plaza. Some form of the market has existed for over 260 years, making this one the oldest continuously held market in the country. George Washington once sent his produce from his home at Mt. Vernon to the market. Now you can participate in the same tradition every week.
The Del Ray Market “is a food and plant-based market located in the heart of one of Alexandria, Virginia’s most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods.” With over 20 unique vendors, this market is particularly diverse. Pick up a jar of homegrown jelly or a healthy supply of “fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese’s, breads, fresh pasta, baked goods and cut flowers.” The market is open on Saturdays year-round from 8 a.m. to noon.
The Williamsburg Farmers Market is open Tuesdays and Saturday from spring to fall. Their mission is simple: “to sustain, foster, and operate a weekly farmers market in Merchants Square for growers and producers to sell fresh seasonal food and farm products direct to consumers in the Williamsburg area.” The market provides an outlet for over 40 vendors. Events and programs are also a regular occurrence. Check the website for details.
The Vienna Farmers Market closes for the winter, but reopens in May to rock out the warmer seasons. This market is “producer-only,” which means that only those that have actually produced their goods can sell. But that doesn’t mean lack of options. The market has free-range meats, crepes, donuts, Mexican breakfast foods, pit beef sandwiches, and free trade coffee, too. Sponsored by the Optimist Club of Greater Vienna, this market is run by volunteers for charity.
George Washington made his fortune as a farmer before we became our first president. Now you can peruse the produce near his estate. While in the area, stop by the main house for a tour.
Named in 2013 and 2014 as one of the “Top 101 Farmers Markets in America,” the Smithfield Farmers Market values hams, harvest, hospitality, and heart above all else. Besides the usual farm fare, market-goers can expect seasonal events, such as the Christmas Craft and Food Market, Thanksgiving Craft and Food Market, and Small Business Saturday Markets. Check the website for a full list of vendors and upcoming events.
The Falls Church Market “strives to support local farmers while also helping product the environment by reducing packaging and transportation demands.” Not only are local vendors on site to sell their wares, but also the market offers a Chef Series, in which local chefs show off their chops for the market-goers.
The Harrisonburg Farmers Market us open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Their mission is “to provide the public with easy access to fresh, nutritious, locally produced agricultural goods and crafts of the highest quality, to assist local regional farmers and other producers to directly market their products to the local customer base, and to support environmental stewardship and community well-being.” The market began in the 1950s and has been going strong ever since. It’s a wonderful stop for locally sourced food from the Shenandoah Valley.