Have you visited your local farmers market lately? The stalls are overflowing with beautiful produce, and local producers of eggs, meat, honey, and other specialties set up their stands for people to buy local. Most of the markets open early on Saturday so you can pick up plenty of food for dinner and still have time for all of your family’s activities later in the day.
Although many people think that farmers markets are only open in the spring and summer, most of them stay open through the end of October. Even once school starts, the market is still a great place to spend a few hours while checking off one of your errands. In fact, the markets on Gordon Road in Spotsylvania and at Hurkamp Park in Fredericksburg stay open until December.
I regularly visit the Spotsylvania Farmers Market. Last weekend, even though the temperature was already in the 80’s when I arrived, hundreds of people were already strolling through the market, picking up produce, showing children all of the beautiful food, and talking to the vendors and other customers.
Farmers and vendors in each of the stalls spent time explaining the different types of produce to one family, a man ordered meat from a local farm, and another stall was heaped with homemade loaves of bread. Now that fall is right around the corner, fall squashes, apples, and chrysanthemums are starting to appear. Soon pumpkins will be piled up, waiting to be turned into pies, bread and muffins, and jack-o-lanterns.
The Fredericksburg area has several farmers markets. The Fredericksburg Farmers Market has three locations: Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, and King George. Each market has multiple stalls of produce and other items. They also take SNAP tokens with matching benefits for families to buy their produce directly from the farmers and make their dollars stretch further.
Stafford County has three farmers markets at different locations: Long Farmers Market, Stafford Farmers Market Cooperative, and the North Stafford Farmers Market. There’s even a farmers market out in Locust Grove: Eastern Orange Farmers Market.
A farmers market is the perfect place for a family trip: you can entertain your kids with all of the sights and tastes, pick up delicious food for dinner, and even add in some flowers to brighten up a neighbor’s day. So, there’s no need to stop enjoying local produce even though autumn is just around the corner. Visit your nearby market, and enjoy the sights, smells, and flavors of the best every season has to offer.
With all of the tempting colors, shapes, and sizes of produce, it’s easy to buy vegetables and then wonder what to do with them when you get them home. Fortunately, several cookbooks from the library can help you with your dilemma.
Photographs taken by Joy O'Toole at the Spotsylvania Farmers Market in Fredericksburg, Virginia.