Colder weather doesn’t chill interest in farmers markets

farm-droughtUntil a few years ago, the Christmas holiday usually meant the end of the season for farmers markets across the state. They often wouldn’t reopen until mid-May.

Today, many farmers’ market vendors have found ways to bring products to market almost year-round. The Del Ray Market is one of several that now stay open all year.

“This is a really good market,” said manager Pat Miller on a recent market day. “The community really, really supports it. As you can see, here’s one of our coldest days of the year, and people are packed. So year-round (we have) our meats, we have sausages, we have chickens, we have rabbits. We have pickles, we have donuts, we have scones, we have every kind of baked good. In the winter you tend to get a little bit more prepared foods, like homemade soups, and stuff along that line, as opposed to produce.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports Virginia had nearly 250 farmers’ markets in 2014, making it one of the top 10 states for the popular shopping style. It’s so popular that many farmers have found it worth their time and cost to use hoop houses or other methods of extending their growing seasons.

“I’m here year-round,” said Luke Shlagel, owner of Shlagel Farms in Waldorf, Md. “I might miss some weeks in the winter when everything is frozen up, but as long as I have something to sell, I’m willing to keep coming.

“There’s still good stuff to be found at farmer’s markets. … My personal favorite—I like the sweet potatoes. Who doesn’t like sweet potatoes? Brown sugar and butter, and you’re set. A nice, easy dessert.”

At Del Ray and many other farmers’ markets, winter shopping is a social event. Buyers exchange recipes and ask vendors questions about how the food is raised and produced. The growing popularity of year-round markets indicates that personal touch is still one of the best ways for farmers to connect with consumers, Miller said.


UVA Basketball Fans!

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018 through to the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Dick Vitale on Team of Destiny: “This is a hoops story you will LOVE! Jerry and Chris capture the sensational and dramatic championship journey by Tony Bennett and his tenacious Cavalier team. UVA was Awesome Baby and so is this book!”

Ralph Sampson on Team of Destiny: “Jerry and Chris have lived and seen it all, even before my time. I highly recommend this book to every basketball fan across the globe. This story translates to all who know defeat and how to overcome it!”

Feedback from buyers: “Got the Book in the Mail Saturday, and could not put it down! Great read and great photography as well! Love all of the books I’ve received, but hands down, this is my favorite!” – Russell

Buy here.

augusta free press news
augusta free press news
augusta free press news