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Holiday farmers markets are ready for business

If you’re looking for a unique gift to please someone’s palate this holiday season, head straight to your local farmers market. More and more markets are staying open through the Christmas shopping season.

va-farm-bureau“Oh, my goodness, there are just all kinds of possibilities for gifts here, depending on what their list looks like, but we have all kinds of food products, prepared foods, wonderful Christmas holiday items,” said Josie Showalter, manager of the Harrisonburg Farmers Market. “Our vendors are very creative and come out with all sorts of holiday things in addition to the regular artisan brands and fabulous foods of every description. There’s obviously a lot of winter products, so people can shop for Christmas meal fixings as well as their gift list.”

There are more than 200 farmers’ markets in Virginia, and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has a list of 28 that will be open through the winter holidays at vdacs.virginia.gov/news/pdf/wintermkts.pdf. Potential gift items available at farmers’ markets include Virginia seafood, wines and ciders, homemade jams and jellies, maple syrup and apple butter. Many markets also feature the works of local craftsmen.

“Everything we sell is hand-carved or hand-turned by my husband, Steve,” said Harrisonburg market vendor Debbie Fischer, co-owner of The WoodArt Studio in Mount Solon

“We try to use as much Virginia wood as possible. Different bowls and cooking utensils are very popular in the area. A lot of people in fact buy them and then add a nice little recipe that they may have been handed down.”

Showalter said there’s “a lot of beauty” in shopping locally. “It’s supporting the local economy, obviously. I think there’s some reason to think it could help the carbon footprint a little bit. Certainly it gives people an incredible connection to what they’re buying.”

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