Farmers’ markets offer fresh produce throughout the fall

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RICHMOND—Farmers’ markets don’t necessarily end with the summer; many continue supplying consumers with seasonal products throughout the fall.

In the most recent Census of Agriculture, more than 3,500 farms in Virginia reported selling directly to consumers, in a state with nearly 250 farmers’ markets. In 2015, Virginians spent more than $41 million on fresh, local products.

“Virginia is blessed with a variety of growing conditions and greenhouses, which allow farmers to produce a variety of crops throughout the fall. This, in turn, allows farmers’ markets to offer a wide selection of locally produced foods through Thanksgiving, if not later,” noted Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

“Locally grown cole crops, winter squashes, apples, raspberries, nuts, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, tomatoes, cucumbers, meats, cheeses, pickles and preserves are just a few examples of foods that can be found this fall.”

At the Williamsburg Farmers Market, shoppers will find a plentiful supply of apples, pumpkins, a dozen varieties of winter squash, sweet potatoes and more. The market’s manager, Tracy Herner, said the market season was extended in 2014 to meet consumer demand.

“It’s still really market season,” Herner explained. “Right now, the pumpkins are flying off the shelf. It’s a great crop of sweet potatoes this year, and the price is lower than at the grocery store. Apples are always a good seller,” she added.

Despite the end of summer produce for sale, the Scottsville Farmers Market has seen an uptick in the number of other kinds of vendors, including an alpaca producer who sells wool and other alpaca products. The market season will run through Nov. 18.

“Last Saturday the market was booming,” recalled manager Deborah Smith. “We’ve seen a steady increase in visitors this past month. We have three new vendors, and we expect a steady flow of shoppers through the end of the market season.”

Smith said the Scottsville market has sweet potatoes, pumpkins, gourds and mums. Farmers will continue to offer farm-raised beef, chicken, pork, rabbit and eggs, as well as seafood from Virginia Beach. A holiday market on Nov. 21 will offer an array of products for Thanksgiving.

Herner is excited to see Williamsburg area farmers growing their businesses by selling value-added products. For example, a lavender grower sells a full line of lavender body products.

“Value-added products extend the season and expand market opportunities for local farmers.”  

Media: Contact Banks at 804-290-1114, Herner at 757-259-3769 or Smith at 434-286-9267.  

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