Nothing is as satisfying as selecting fresh, locally grown produce at a farmers market in the Shenandoah Valley. Whether fruit, vegetables, baked goods, flowers, or herbs, the anticipation and sampling are never disappointing.
I have such pleasant memories of strolling through markets looking at all the fresh, lush produce, deciding what to buy and what to prepare for dinner. It is a great way to start the weekend by stopping by a farmers market bright and early on a Saturday morning.
The atmosphere is light, sunny, and full of enlightment, no matter the weather, as the goods on sale assault every one of the senses. Walking from vendor to vendor gives customers a variety to select for a feast prepared later in the day or for days to come. Nothing tempts the taste buds like a fresh watermelon in July or colorful flowers to plant or arrange in a vase from summer to fall.
Farmers or merchants do not hesitate to tell customers what is the latest or newest item at the market and often steer them towards something to try for the first time.
Weekly sites are popping up more frequently all over the Shenandoah Valley in small towns and at markets that are open year-round. Some take their wares to group sites while others offer products on site at the farms or orchards. In addition, the season has lengthened as some markets now stay open all year.
Old Town Winchester hosts a farmers market for the first time in the Taylor Pavilion on the pedestrian mall from May to October. Fourteen vendors from a 60-mile radius take part in the market Saturday mornings offering a myriad of products from farmers and some of the shops on the mall. What a great setting with pedestrians having the right of way and taking their time picking what is best for them. The covered pavilion provides shade and protection from the elements so as not to disrupt the customers from finding just what they need. For more information visit oldtownwinchesterva.com.
Close by on the parking lot of Winchester Little Theatre, 315 W. Boscawen St., Freight Station Farmers Market hosts a producers-only market Tuesday, Friday and Saturday with a collection of farmers and merchants offering prepared foods as well as those to take home and cook. No stranger to the area, the market has been serving the Shenandoah Valley for more than a decade. Visit Facebook page Freight Station Farmers Market. Drivers can’t miss seeing the tents and vehicles positioned just right for customers to get a good look at the latest and freshest.
Downtown Berryville has hosted the Clarke County Farmers Market at 20 S. Church St. for more than a decade. It is open Saturdays May to October and calls itself a staple in the community on its web. Thirteen vendors are from Clarke County and offer its citizen an outlet to buy directly from local farmers. The hubbub in the middle of the town draws residents to the parking lot where the vendors congregate as they decide what fits the bill for them.
Close by at 1608 Russell Road near Berryville, Macintosh Fruit Farm market is open for the season. The family owned farm, nestled in the beautiful Northern Shenandoah Valley, started with apple and peach trees. Since then, the farm has added many more varieties of fruit trees and berries, and a wide variety of vegetables.
On down the road, east of Berryville, Nalls Farm Market, 4869 Harry Byrd Highway, is open from thre middle of March through Dec. 24. It is family owned and operated and offers local produce, baked goods, plants, and more. Visit nallsfarmmarket.com.
Virginia Farm Market is known for seasonal fruit, local produce, and baked goods. This fourth-generation business offers up the freshest local produce. It began in 1952 as a family orchard and roadside market up the road in Cross Junction. A new building was constructed in 1986 and the business was moved to its current location at 1881 N. Frederick Pike. It is open daily April through December.
Harrisonburg Farmers Market, 228 S. Liberty St., Harrisonburg, (Turner Pavilion behind City Municipal Building) offers local produce in season from asparagus to zucchini, artisan breads and a wide variety of baked goods, free range meats and eggs, cheeses and prepared foods, as well as seasonal fresh cut flowers, bedding and nursery plants, select local crafts and more. It is open Tuesdays and Saturdays, April until Thanksgiving.
Hillsboro Farmers Market at the Old Stone School is run through a partnership between the Town of Hillsboro and the Hillsboro Community Association, and Friends of the Old Stone School. It is open Saturdays off Route 9 in Hillsboro. The market offers a unique venue for western Loudoun to promote its agricultural and small artisan businesses to area residents and tourists.
Linda’s Mercantile & Farm Market is open daily at 2502 N. Frederick Pike, Winchester. This is the seventh year for the market, and David and Linda Lay operate the farm, where they grow produce and fruits. The market has five greenhouses, used to get a jump start on tomatoes and to grow greens.
Richards Fruit Market, 6410 Middle Road, begins its season in July and continues through the fall with appointments available year-round. The market, richardsfruitmarket.com, is called the oldest country classic open air farmers market, located on Richard’s fifth generation family farm (est. 1878) in Frederick County. It offers everything needed to prepare a complete meal at home including beef, fruit, vegetables, fresh baked desserts, wine and pick-your-own flowers for the table. Festivals include peach, apple, and gourd.
Great Country Farms, 18780 Foggy Bottom Road, Bluemont, open from March through Nov. 24, offers a wide range of seasonal fresh produce and products. greatcountryfarms.com also offers u pick opportunities.
No matter where the market is located, there are many options for the consumer. Often purchases are made that were not planned but prove very successful. Just take in the smells and views at the markets and let your senses do the driving. Check out Go Blue Ridge Travel’s Farmers Markets and UPick farms in the valley.