Home Farmers markets — and asparagus — are springing up this month

Farmers markets — and asparagus — are springing up this month


newspaperAsparagus tips are starting to shoot out of the ground, signaling the time to find fresh, local vegetables.

Some Virginia farmers markets will open this month, while others have been open year-round. At many markets, shoppers will find Virginia-grown asparagus.

In Mathews County, Karen and John Weaver of K&J Farms are patiently waiting for their asparagus to grow to market length so they can sell them at the recently opened Williamsburg Farmers Market.

“I saw a few pieces the other day, but it’s been too cold for them to be ready yet,” John Weaver said. “They should be ready by the second week in April, but you can’t rush it.”

Farmers markets that are opening this month include the Orange County Farmers Market, the Harrisonburg Downtown Farmers Market, the Staunton Augusta Farmers Market, the Radford Farmers Market, the Mathews Farmers Market and The Tappahannock Farmers Market. Among those that are open year-round are markets in Alexandria, Fredericksburg, Roanoke and Virginia Beach.

“Anyone who has never been to a farmers’ market is in for a treat,” said Tony Banks, commodity marketing specialist for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Not only will shoppers find delicious spring fruits and vegetables, but many vendors also offer other farm-fresh products like real honey, jams, meat and dairy products.

“Best of all, farmers’ markets allow consumers to buy locally grown produce and foods directly from area farmers, which helps support the state’s largest economic industry—agriculture.”

A couple of years ago, the Weavers’ asparagus crop was ready by the third week of March. Virginia’s asparagus harvest season varies, depending on the ground temperature.

Once the asparagus harvest begins, the Weavers cut the green spears for about five weeks. In addition to selling at the Williamsburg market, they also sell asparagus from the back of their green pickup truck in downtown Mathews and to some area restaurants.

Locally grown asparagus has a limited window of availability, but Weaver said it’s definitely worth pursuing. He’s found that fresh-cut asparagus stored standing in an inch of water in the refrigerator can last up to two weeks without a change in flavor.

“You either love it or you hate it, but people who don’t like it typically don’t know how to cook it,” Weaver said. His favorite method of cooking asparagus is to marinate the stalks overnight in red wine vinegar, garlic and salt and then throw them on the grill. He said his adult daughter “won’t touch a vegetable,” but when he grills asparagus she eats it.

The Weaver family loves its produce. “We eat our asparagus raw right out of the field, but not everybody eats asparagus like the Weaver family does.”



Have a guest column, letter to the editor, story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected]. Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.