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Northern Virginia farmers market

Northern Virginia farmers markets

Farmers markets help you know where your food comes from

Second in a 4-part series on Virginia farmers markets
By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist:

(Part 1: Virginia Beach farmers markets)
(Part 3: Fredericksburg farmers markets)
(Part 4: Richmond farmers markets)

Do you know where your food comes from? It’s hard to figure out the backstory of anything you buy in a grocery store — even organic items from eggs to milk to produce aren’t always what they seem. The only way to know for sure is to get to know the farmers and food artisans who make your food.

Get to know your farmers & food artisans

Local farmers markets and online farmers markets like Seasonal Roots can help you do that. Sam, the Farmer Connector for Seasonal Roots, gets to know each farmer and food artisan personally. He visits their farms and kitchens and knows the methods they use to grow or make their local food. He makes sure they all rely on sustainable, humane practices that are good for people, animals, and the environment. Thanks to Sam, it’s easy for Seasonal Roots members to get to know each farmer and food artisan, too — while they’re shopping at our online farmers market, they just click on the vendor info that’s next to every item in the market.

In-person farmers markets that are “producer only” farmers markets give you a similar opportunity. “Producer only” means every vendor grows or makes the things they sell. No re-selling is allowed. An example of re-selling is when a vendor buys produce at a wholesale market, then takes it to the farmers market to sell it there. That kind of produce is almost never local and it’s almost impossible to figure out how and where it was really grown.

When you go to a producer-only farmers market, it’s a safe bet that the person standing there next to a mound of gorgeous produce or tempting pies had something to do with growing or making it. They’re either the farmer or food artisan themselves, or they’re a family member or friend or employee. You can stop for a chat, find out where they farm and what kinds of farming methods they use. To ensure their produce has the most flavor and nutrients, how soon after harvest do they get their produce to market? Are they environmentally friendly — are they low- or no-spray and do they conserve water? Do they treat their animals humanely — are the animals raised in pastures and are antibiotics avoided?

Local producer-only farmers markets, whether they’re in-person or online, give you an old school connection to your food that’s impossible to get at a grocery store. They give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing and trusting the people you get your food from, even in a big, impersonal metropolitan area like Northern Virginia.

Northern Virginia farmers markets

The Spotsylvania Farmers Market is the largest local farmers market in the region. They say that more than 60 vendors are out there every Saturday selling locally produced goods.

Another large local farmers market that proudly declares itself producer-only is the Dale City Farmers Market. Nearly 50 vendors set up for business on Sundays.

The veteran-owned, family-owned Long Sunday Market (formerly known as the North Stafford Farmers Market) is also open on Sundays and everything is locally produced. They’re also now hosting a smaller Wednesday market, so check it out!

The historic Fredericksburg Farmers Market offers three locations that feature family farms — one open on Saturdays, the others on Thursdays.

The Reston Farmers Market, open on Saturdays, has a history of focusing on nutritious eating and says it’s also producer-only.

The Herndon Farmers Market and Annandale Farmers Market are both open on Thursdays. Like the other farmers markets in this list that are sponsored by Fairfax County, they are strictly producer-only. Their farmers and producers all come from within a 125-mile radius of Fairfax County. They even encourage their food artisans to use local ingredients in the creation of their products as much as possible.

One final note: Most of these Northern Virginia farmers markets do not allow pets within the market area. Sad as it is, please leave furry family members who aren’t service animals at home — especially during the summer months when it’s just too hot to safely leave them in the car.

So if you want your food to match your values (and if you want to make sure you get what you pay for!), get to know your local family farmers and food artisans and buy local. Like we say here at Seasonal Roots: It’s all about food that’s good for you and good for the planet… from people you know!

 

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

Virginia Beach farmers markets

Virginia Beach farmers markets

Farmers markets bring communities together

First in a 4-part series on Virginia farmers markets
By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist:

(Part 2: Northern Virginia farmers markets)
(Part 3: Fredericksburg farmers markets)
(Part 4: Richmond farmers markets)

Here at Seasonal Roots online farmers market, we love in-person farmers markets. They’re our inspiration! In this series we’ll explore in-person farmers markets in Richmond, Fredericksburg, Northern Virginia, and the Hampton Roads/Virginia Beach area — communities that are lucky enough to have a local farmers market or two… or more! No need to Google “farmers markets near me”. We’ve got ’em right here. In this post, we’ll start with Hampton Roads.

Hampton Roads/Virginia Beach farmers markets

When you have the time, you can make a day of it at a larger market like the Virginia Beach Farmers Market. Over the course of 25 years, it has grown to include local and regional produce, a butcher shop, dairy store, bakery, organic grocery, wild bird store, seafood, florist, candy maker, specialty garden shops — even a restaurant.

“Next door” in the Virginia Beach/Hampton Roads area, the Newport News City Center Farmers Market offers a nice break from the workday. During the summer it’s open Thursday’s from 10-2.

The historic setting and live music at the Williamsburg Farmers Market make for a memorable all-day Saturday outing.

Same for the Portsmouth Olde Towne Farmers Market, which even sneaks in some educational and cultural opportunities by partnering with local museums and concerts.

The key to enjoying these local farmers markets, of course, is TIME. Getting in the car on the Saturday or Thursday the market is open, driving, parking, wandering the market, comparing what’s on offer, detouring to check out a kid-friendly vendor, stopping to chat with a farmer or neighbor or enjoy the live music… it’s fun but not exactly convenient.

Upsides, downsides & building community

Healthy eating has got to be convenient to make it a regular part of busy lives, and we’re all busy, right? For that, you’ve got Seasonal Roots, with farmers market online shopping and farmers market home delivery. Saves you tons of time and makes it easy to eat nutritious, delicious local food every day.

In-person farmers markets are time-consuming for the farmers, too. Markets like the one in Williamsburg require the vendors to make or grow the stuff they sell. The upside is, you know you’re buying real local food direct from the farmer, not mystery produce some guy bought at a wholesale market and hauled over to the farmers market.

The downside is, the farmer has to spend a whole day at the market. That’s a day they’re not plowing, planting, weeding, feeding, harvesting, or the thousand-and-one other things that farmers have to do. An online farmers market like Seasonal Roots is a much easier and more efficient way for local farmers to connect with local families.

Still, whether a farmers market is in-person or online, there’s nothing like it for bringing a community together. So join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. And when you have time, we’ll see you at the local farmers market!

 

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

local produce

New & improved baskets of fresh local produce

New & improved baskets of fresh local produce

By the Seasonal Roots Veggie Fairy Team:

When our online farmers market opens this weekend, our new updated basket options will make their debut. It’s part of our never-ending effort to better support local farmers while helping local families eat better, live better!

The first thing you’ll notice are new names for the baskets. The new names make it easier to figure out which one is the best fit for the way you eat. As Goldilocks would say, one of them will be juuuuust right.

EASY BASKET: This is the smallest basket, offering 5 choices for $24.00. It’s an easy choice if you don’t want to commit to too much food. It’s easy to complete only five choices, and easy to use them up if you’re a household of one or two people or don’t cook much.

FAMILY BASKET: This is the middle-sized basket, offering 8 choices for $34 just like the old medium basket. It’s perfect for a family of four that eats at home several nights a week. It’s also a good option for smaller vegetarian households.

VEGGIE LOVER BASKET: The biggest basket offers 11 choices for $40.00. This is the one for you if your family is bigger, or eats in all the time, or if you just love your veggies – like the name says!

So why make these changes? Like we said, we’re always working to better support local farmers while we help local families eat better. The new baskets are designed to help us all eat more fresh local produce. That’s better for farmers because vegetables and fruits are the foundation of family farming. They’re also the foundation of a healthy diet. So it’s good for our farmers AND good for us — especially since our local fruits and veggies are super fresh and sustainably grown, making them more nutritious and delicious.

As always, you can still pick a different basket size each week, customize what’s in your basket, and order Extras as well. Or you can leave it on automatic default, sit back, and watch the veggies roll in.

To make the update easy on you, your current basket will automatically update to a new basket. The current Small Basket will become an EASY BASKET. The Medium Basket will become a FAMILY BASKET. And the Large Basket will become a VEGGIE LOVER BASKET. If you’re happy with your default, you don’t have to do a thing.

If you want to change you default basket, you an still change it just like before. Here’s how to do it:
1. Log into your account at SeasonalRoots.com.
2. You’ll see a purple icon in the upper righthand corner. Hover over the icon and select “Delivery Preferences”.
3. At the top, click on the “Delivery Preferences” tab and then make your selection.

One thing won’t change at all: Every basket will still be filled with the freshest, most nutritious and flavorful local produce you can buy!

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

Grassfed and sustainable Thornebook Farms

Grassfed: Why these “ka-razy” local farmers made the switch

Grassfed: Why these “ka-razy” local farmers made the switch


By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist:

When Brooks and Jil Davis decided to switch from conventional farming and go grassfed and sustainable, they were pretty much alone. Many of their fellow farmers didn’t like the idea. The couple’s decision cost them one friendship and affected their farm networking. They were labeled, “Ka-razy!”

So why make the switch? Research. Like everything else with their farm, Jil and Brooks did the research and went where the facts led them.

In our last post, we explored organic vs sustainable vs local, and explained why the best way to ensure your food is nutritious and eco-friendly is to know the farmer. So in this post we’d like you to get to know one of our newest farmer partners.

Starting out


Jil and Brooks built ThorneBrook Farms from the ground up. They’re first generation farmers. They didn’t inherit their farm. Jil grew up on a small hobby farm with horses, goats, and chickens that, along with the dogs, were pets, not food. Brooks didn’t grow up on a farm at all.

Still, he had the farming bug. He studied agricultural business at Virginia Tech, while Jil studied accounting and business at a local college. In 2006, they got married and started planning their cattle, sheep, and chicken farm.

“We researched, researched, researched,” Jil recalls. They bought some land near Goochland, Va., prepared it, saved money, and got their financial ducks in a row for the initial herd purchase. They bought their first herd in 2007.

At the time, they were conventional farmers and called themselves “grass-based”. That means they raised their cattle on pasture but still used medicines, vaccines, conventional feeds, and hay grown with fertilizers and sprays. “We were far from organic and definitely not sustainable,” according to Jil.

They were also working really long hours and running a landscaping business on the side. They wanted to do more than just break even financially. They needed their farm to be self-sufficient and were eager to find ways to streamline their operation and reduce their costs.

Their research turned up a sustainable farming practice called intensive and rotational grazing where the animals are moved from pasture to pasture. They were intrigued by both the business end of things and the science that showed how this model supported the health of the land and animals, while also improving the meat quality. Studies show that a truly grassfed process results in more nutritional and tasty meat.

They’d done their research and they had their answer. Sustainable farming practices, including rotational grazing, were the way to go.

Making the switch


In 2009, they shifted their business model 180 degrees: They switched from conventional practices to a sustainable, natural approach. Grass-based herd management not only fit their lifestyle and goals, it had the potential to maximize their profits — the natural grassfed movement was gaining momentum and they were ready to meet the demand.

Today, their sustainable practices extend throughout their farm operation. They even rely on solar power for the water and electric fencing in their pastures. Watch how well it works!

At first, after they went sustainable, they continued to sell through wholesalers and middlemen. But it wasn’t long before they saw that selling direct to local consumers was a great opportunity. Their sustainable practices were making their farm more financially sustainable, too.

Jil and Brooks sacrificed the comfortable old conventional way of doing things. But by going sustainable, Jil explains, “Our business increased and our foundation grew stronger. We also grew as a couple and business partners. I can say that we are 100% at peace with our model and the quality it produces.”

Here at Seasonal Roots, we love supporting local, sustainable farmers like Jil and Brooks of ThorneBrook Farms! Our members are helping ensure they have an economically viable way to feed us all delicious, nutritious food. We’re excited to make their grassfed lamb sausage the first item we offer to our members. There’s more to come from this farming couple whom we’re getting to know so well!

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS


Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

7 Ways OUR Local Food Will Change Your Life

By Duane Slyder, founder & head veggie fairy:

Can local food really change your life? It can… but only if it’s done right. Here are 7 ways our Seasonal Roots veggie fairies will change your life here in Virginia.

1. Convenient home delivery = a total time saver! All those perishables that have to be restocked the most often? We bring them right to your home or office. That equals fewer shopping trips.

2. Vetted farmers market fare = peace of mind. We know our family farmers and we know they use healthy, sustainable practices and treat their animals humanely. At a traditional market, you’re on your own, and it’s hard to know who to trust.

3. Guaranteed freshness = good taste and good health. We can guarantee it because everything is local or regional. It’s harvested and delivered in a short period of time, so it’s still packed with flavor and nutrients.

4. Dedicated customer service = more serenity, less aggravation. If there’s ever an issue, just email support@seasonalroots.com or call 757-351-4565 and we’ll make it right. At other markets, there’s no one to help you between market days.

5. More variety = less boredom, a more balanced diet, and a healthier eco-system. Whew! This is a big one. Unlike a CSA, we partner with dozens of small family farms and food artisans, all growing and making different things. Whether you customize your basket or opt for the default, you’ll experience 7 kinds of sweet potatoes, 4 kinds of kale – hey, have you ever tried creamline whole milk? The list goes on and on. And our farmers’ sustainable practices include growing a wide variety of crops. Much better for the soil and the local eco-system than monocropping.

6. Reliable staples = save your energy for the exotic stuff. Every week you can count on us for your fruit, veggies, bread, grass-fed milk, cheese, meats, eggs, and other basics, all of them fresh!

7. A team that loves what they do = more joy for everyone! Studies show that happiness and good health are closely connected. Smiles are contagious, so we pass ‘em on!