While you might not ask for the name of the pig that provided your pork chop, you might want to know what kinds of pesticides were used on your carrots.
What if this Thanksgiving you could know exactly where your turkey was raised, what it ate, and what its name was?
Ok, maybe the name is a little too much. Unless you’re in a survival situation, I think you should avoid the phrase, “Could you pass more Fred please?” in everyday life.
However, the bit about knowing how the turkey was raised is appealing. The fact is, you’re not going to get this kind of experience at your local Food Lion. But at a farmers’ market everything you buy is being sold by the very people who raised or grew it. So while you might not ask for the name of the pig that provided your pork chop, you might want to know what kinds of pesticides were used on your carrots.
Until recently this kind of experience was hard to come by in Norfolk. But now, thanks to some local business women, it is a reality. The Farmers’ Fare at East Beach in Norfolk is a farmers’ market nearing the end of its inaugural season, but has it been a success?
“What Jessica and I did was take our passion, create a business opportunity for ourselves, our vendors, and thus fulfill a need within an immediate community and Hampton Roads as a whole. We have provided a very winning situation for families to eat healthier and understand their food sources,” says Kristal Miller, who co-founded Farmer’s Fare LLC earlier this year with her business partner Jessica Harkness.
They created the business with the goal of creating a farmers’ market in the Hampton Roads area. Both Miller and Harkness had been involved with farmers’ markets in some capacity for the past few years. In the fall of 2009, Miller helped organize a small festival in East Beach and felt it was a great success. The locals must have agreed because demand for more events in East Beach grew. So, when Harkness and Miller got their business started in the fall of 2011 and they needed a location East Beach was their first choice.
According to Miller, East Beach was in desperate need of a market like this. “It is very obvious that there is no real quality shopping in East Ocean View. The availability of fresh, local, seasonal produce, meats, fish and seafood, eggs, breads, artisanal cheeses, pastas and sauces, scratch-made baked goods, homemade ice cream, to name just a few of the opportunities, is not there at this time.”
The opening of this market in Norfolk arrives at the perfect cultural moment. Buying local organic food has been a popular trend in the U.S. and one that continues to gain momentum. The benefits of locally-grown food are numerous. The personal rewards range from a reduction in the amount of chemicals you and your family consume to the peace of mind you get from knowing the meat you eat is from animals that were treated humanely.
There are also economic benefits to buying local. By purchasing food directly from the farmers who produced it, you are helping your community grow. Instead of your money going to some giant corporate farm in some mystery location, it is going to your neighbor who happens to be a farmer. In that way, buying local food is a very important part of the economy of Hampton Roads.
Scott Wilson is a local farmer who has been running Full Quiver Farms in Suffolk with his wife Alison and nine children since 2003. “When we started attending farmers’ markets seven years ago, farmers’ markets represented only a fraction of our income stream. They now play a much bigger role as they have grown significantly in popularity over just these few years,” says Wilson.
Full Quiver Farms has a lot of customers in the Norfolk area and when Wilson heard about the possibility of a farmers’ market in East Beach, he knew he had to be involved. “It has been a good market for us, convenient to our customers and has a good variety of vendors,” adds Wilson, who says he fully intends to participate in The Farmers’ Fare next year.
“We could not be more pleased with our first season,” he said. “This year we were 26 weeks long and we are already thinking about expanding to earlier in the spring for 2013.”
This season, the Farmers’ Fare will continue every Saturday in East Beach through October 20th and will have a brief holiday season in November (the 3rd and 17th) and December (the 1st and 15th). For more information on the East Beach Farmers’ Fare, visit their website: www.shopfarmersfare.com. For more information on Full Quiver Farm or how to reserve a Thanksgiving turkey, please visit http://www.fullquiverfarm.com.
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