Fredericksburg-area farmers’ markets gear up for the new season | Local business news

By CATHY JETT FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR

Hungry shoppers can eat one of Jessica Danielle’s freshly baked cookies slathered in butter when the Spotsylvania Farmers Market opens for the season at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Danielle owns Biscuit Batch, two of the new Market Vendors that will sell produce, produce and plants at the VDOT Commuter Lot at the intersection of State Route 3 and Gordon Road in Spotsylvania County. The Navy veteran is a private chef who took part in Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.”

Biscuit Batch will sell a variety of cookie sandwiches for breakfast and lunch, as well as packets of cookies and Danielle’s homemade jams and preserves.

Also new to the market is Plush Crispies, a home-based business specializing in gourmet crispy rice treats in flavors ranging from classic to “celebration,” as well as cocoa nibs and coconut. All are gluten free.

“We may add another vendor,” said market manager Danie Payne. “We are processing the request.”

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Spotsylvania has two farmers’ markets, and the one in the suburban land is the largest. It will run from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. from Saturday to December 17 and will have 46 vendors. They will sell local vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs, bread, honey and plants. There will also be locally roasted coffee, freshly squeezed lemonade, pies and pastries, pickles and jams, salsas, popcorn and barbecue.

The other market won’t open until May 4 and will run from 2-6 p.m. Wednesdays in front of the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, 4600 Spotsylvania Parkway. New this year will be Cafeto Espresso, which serves a variety of coffee drinks, teas, smoothies, milkshakes and lemonades; North Side Growers, a local farm specializing in gourmet mushrooms as well as seasonal vegetables and fresh herbs; Meli’s Micros, which grows organic microgreens including sunflower and speckled pea; and Always on My Mind Farm, which sells duck eggs.

“We’re really excited about these,” Payne said of the duck eggs. “We get a lot of inquiries about this, so we’re happy to find someone to bring them in.”

Spotsylvania Markets are among nine farmers’ markets in Fredericksburg and surrounding counties of Caroline, King George, Stafford and Spotsylvania, according to the Virginia Farmers Market Association. Most open this month, and several have a handful of vendors that operate year-round. COVID-19 rules have been relaxed since the pandemic subsided and masks are no longer required. Farmer’s market managers suggested checking market websites for the latest rules.

Here’s what’s happening in other local markets:

STAFFORD COUNTY

Long Family Markets, which opened for the season on April 3, will operate 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday through November in the back corner of Staffordboro Commuter Lot near State Route 610.

“We average about 70 businesses on site each week,” said Robin Long, the market’s owner. “Our artisans rotate, so every week you’ll find something a little different on the market.”

New vendors this season include: Always Flavored with its range of hot sauces; Back Pocket Provisions, which sells several varieties of Bloody Mary mixes; Marcos Produce, with its display of local produce, flowers and plants; Meli’s microphones; Mr. Willies BBQ, a seller of barbecue sauces; and Nuevos Comienzos, which serves pupusas and other Latin dishes.

Other new suppliers are: Olive Branch Gardens, which sells cut greens; The Pickle Factory with various pickled vegetables; Split Decision Desserts, specializing in vegan cookies; and The Herbalist’s Assistant, which offers natural skin care products.

Additionally, Bookmobile Fredericksburg will be giving away free books, local author JS Furlong will be reading a 5-minute story to interested listeners, and several artisans will be selling their original artwork.

“We are still offering a weekly chicken hunt for Mr. Cluck Cluck and have added an alligator viewing area (with an inflatable alligator in the holding pool adjacent to the market area) as well as remote activities and games social set up throughout the market during the season,” Long said.

FREDERICKSBURG

The Fredericksburg Farmer’s Market, which surrounds Prince Edward and George streets in Hurkamp Park, will open on April 16. It will be held from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday until October.

The market will have 30 vendors every Saturday selling produce, meat, micro greens, honey, mushrooms, hot sauces, bread and other baked goods, cold pressed juices, coffee, freshly squeezed lemonade and hot corn. New this year will be Xquizit specialty coffee roasters and brewers, Witty Roots hot sauces and The Little Green Garden, which sells a variety of organic micro-vegetables.

“We will have additional vendors on the second and fourth Saturdays set up inside Hurkamp Park,” said market manager Paula Meredith. “Among these vendors we will have the Roaming Stone, a knife and tool sharpener.”

Bi-weekly vendors will include Birds, Berries and Buttercream, selling homemade cakes, cupcakes and cookies, with vegan options; BriBakes, a confectioner and baker offering handmade chocolates and vegan, soy-free and nut-free options; Butterfly Greens, which sells microgreens; Carter-ly Sweet baked goods; Landless Farmer, which sells annuals and houseplants; Nieces Delicious Delights with cheesecake, seasonal pies and pickles; and Rustic Bakehouse, which offers quick breads, muffins and dog treats.

“One of our vendors, Elda Gardens, will bring her food truck to the market on occasion,” Meredith said. “They will serve breakfast and lunch options made from produce they raise/grow on their farm. Their food truck will be parked at the corner of William and Prince Edward streets when they are at the market.

Art in the Park will return in May and will take place on the first and third Saturdays of the month in conjunction with the Farmers Market.

MARY WASHINGTON HEALTHCARE

Mary Washington Healthcare will have two weekday markets this year, primarily for those who work at its Fredericksburg and Stafford County hospitals, though the public is also welcome to shop there.

The one at Mary Washington Hospital, 1001 Sam Perry Blvd., will be held the second and fourth Fridays of the month from May 2 through September. It will be located outside the main entrance.

New this year will be a market at Stafford Hospital, 101 Hospital Center Blvd., in the traffic loop next to the emergency department. The Stafford market is being added on a trial basis, said Pamela Nimeth, wellness coordinator for Mary Washington Healthcare.

Both markets will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will feature three vendors: C&T Produce, Little Irv’s Bakery and Berie Croft Farm.

KING GEORGE’S COUNTY

The King George Farmers Market will begin the season on April 30. It will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday through October 29 at King George Middle School, 8246 Dahlgren Road.

It will have 31 sellers this year, including eight newcomers. They are Amiee’s Sandwiches, a food truck selling plant-based dishes; HappyMore Naturals, which sells natural remedies and fermented foods; Huckleberry Bath Bombs, Kaziville, a food truck serving hot dogs and other fare; Corn Kettle from Sweet Izzy; The Herbalist’s Assistant; and Victoria’s Back Road Bakery.

“As usual, the community days take place on the first Saturday of each month (the first is May 7),” said Agostinho Caldeira, the market manager. “We also have special events. On June 18, we are hosting our third annual Father’s Day Beard Contest and also, in July, our annual Art Show.

CAROLINA COUNTY

Caroline County is home to a few farmers’ markets: the Community Farmer’s Market in Bowling Green and the Route 639 Farmer’s Market in Ladysmith.

The Bowling Green Market opened on April 2 in front of the Atlantic Bank Union Bank Building on North Main Street.

“It was cold, but we had people outside. People were excited, so it was good,” said Cheryl English, one of the two market managers. “It will get better and better as it warms up and more becomes available.”

Vendors will be there, selling everything from plants and produce to baked goods and crafts, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through October.

“We have a few new suppliers and maybe a third. The products will be there, but we won’t have much until May,” said English.

The new vendors will be jeweler Beth Austin and Samantha Jessie, who sell jams, jellies, and all kinds of berries.

Two flea markets will be held on the sidelines of the market this year. One will take place on May 21 and the other in August.

“We did this as a way to bring people to Bowling Green,” English said. “We’re just cheerleaders for Bowling Green. It’s such a cute little town.

Route 639 Market opens May 12 at 7278 Ladysmith Road in Ruther Glen. It will be open from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays until September 22. Vendor applications are being accepted, said Caldeira, which runs the market in addition to King George’s.

SNAP AND WIC

Beneficiaries of two government programs will once again be able to spend their money at local farmers’ markets. They include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which will match up to $30 in fruit and vegetable purchases.

“We’ve been doing this for 10 years for most of our markets,” said Candice Armstrong, executive director of Virginia Community Food Connections. “Things have really taken off. More people have heard of the program, and with the ability to shop outside, many people with SNAP realize their benefits extend further.

She oversees seven markets in the Fredericksburg area. Last year, people used their e-benefit cards to make a total of $179,000 in purchases in these marketplaces and earned an additional $165,000 in matching incentives provided by federal grants.

VCFC also has a partnership with the Rappahannock Area Health District to assist those participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. They can get vegetarian vouchers worth $15 each week at farmers’ markets to use for their purchases there.

“We’re trying to do another big push to get the word out and serve more than last year,” Armstrong said. “Last year, we gave out 541 vouchers for over $8,000. It was in all markets. It was hard to get the word out because the WIC program was virtual and moms weren’t coming in to talk face-to-face.