Find a Local Farmers Market in VA
Just about everyone should know nowadays that Virginia farmers markets are among the best places to find great local produce. They're also great places to make friends, taste test new, fresh ingredients before you buy, and even watch cooking demonstrations and entertainment in many cases.
Virginia farmers markets highlight the products from local farms and other agri-businesses, plus they occur in your home town, so you aren't required to travel far to locate them. They've been going on for years in some locations, but they have gotten popular in the last few years, so you should be able to find one not far from home!
The Benefits of Farmers Markets in Virginia
The advantages of shopping at your local Virginia farmers market are many. First off, you are assured the produce and other items are as fresh as they can be, as they come directly from the farm to the market. The majority of crops available for sale at these markets are naturally grown, so you know your friends and family won't be eating anything except farm-fresh goodness.
Also, Virginia farmers markets are good for the environment. Farms contribute oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the air, which can help reduce global warming, and usually, farmers do not have to drive too far to the market, so the environment gets another boost while using less fuel and contributing fewer emissions into the air.
Often, rates are cheaper at farmers markets, too, because the farmer does not have to mark up his prices to generate income from a wholesaler, who marks up the prices again before they get to the supermarket. So, you are actually paying less of your budget for a much better product, and who does not like that?
These markets benefit Virginia farmers, as well, given that they have a weekly (or daily) market to bring in customers, plus they don't need to ship their products days or weeks beforehand at low cost, so they make a better profit, too. It's always better to purchase from local VA farms, because the money stays in the local economy, and that means more jobs and profitability - all from buying fresh local produce!
Finding Your Local Virginia Farmers Market
Farmers markets usually run from late May or early June through September or October, depending on where you live and your climate. Actually it all is dependent upon the growing season in your area and when farmers can get their first products to market. Virginia farmers markets are such a big deal now, that usually local newspapers will print a schedule of markets in your area as the season is about to begin.
Often, you will find a schedule from your local Cooperative Extension or county agricultural board, too. They've become very popular, in fact, that some communities enjoy a number of farmers markets every week, so it pays to shop all of them and choose the ones that provide the produce and other products you like the best.
What to Look for at a Virginia Farmers Market
You are sure to find local Virginia farms offering their products at affordable prices, but there are a few things to look out for. Make sure the produce is ripe and hasn't been sitting out in the sun too long, or has been damaged in transport. Nearly all booths will offer you a free taste of whatever you're looking at, so you can check out new flavors and crops you might not have had a chance to experience before.
Some farmers may even supply you with recipes and other ideas on how to serve their products, too. At the really big markets, organizers may bring in free entertainment, arts and crafts booths, and other amusements to bring in the crowds, and they may even provide play areas for the kids, too.
Look for other items at your farmers market, too. Sometimes local meat, cheese, and dairy producers bring their wares, and big markets are more like a county fair, with food booths, information booths, and even games for the whole family. So, check out a local Virginia farmer market or two, and come home with everything else you need for a healthy, hearty dinner.