Fresh, local produce perfect for fall gatherings

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RICHMOND—Summer may be coming to an end, but fresh, Virginia-grown produce is still available.

Apples, Asian pears, beets, berries, squash, peaches, peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes and watermelon are still ripe and ready for the picking—and eating. These yummy foods are perfect for Labor Day picnics and back-to-school events.

“Summer is winding down, and soon we’ll have plenty of local fall produce, like sweet potatoes, winter squash, pumpkins and cole crops,” said Tony Banks, commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “But there’s still plenty of fresh produce to put on your dinner tables or use for picnics and grilling.”

Many fresh foods are available well into the end of September and even October, and the Virginia Fruit and Vegetable Availability Calendar shows when your favorite local crops are available in Virginia.

Jim Saunders of Saunders Brothers Farm and Farm Market in Nelson County reported having a wide variety of fresh, late-season fruit available including apples, Asian pears, nectarines and peaches. Saunders Brothers grows a type of peach and a variety of Asian pears that ripen at the end of September, and their apple varieties can be picked all the way through November.

When describing his Gala apples, Saunders said, “We’ve had an abundance of rain this year, so the size is very good, and they’re very juicy.”

Blake, a variety of peach that Saunders and his family have been growing on the farm for 70 years, is a yellow-flesh, freestone peach. “The beauty of the Blake peach is that it’s red around the seed, which is very unusual,” Saunders noted. “And people who like to freeze peaches like that; it’s really good-tasting.”

He said the farm’s white nectarines also are good this season. “They’re very sweet and come away from the seed. It’s just a peach with no fuzz,” he added.

The farm grows several varieties of Asian pears. The first variety to ripen—Shinseiki—is particularly juicy, Saunders said. “If you take a bite out of it, the juice will run down your chin.”

Overall, he said, “we’ve had a great season here. We have had a lot of rain. We have a really good crop.”

To find local foods near you, visit

Media: Contact Banks at 804-290-1114.

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