It’s been a long and hungry road for downtown Norfolk residents.
Downtown’s last proper grocery store, Farm Fresh, closed on a cold and lonely January day seven years ago.
Then, for a spell, there was Shady Grove, on Botetourt St. They didn’t have everything you need — it was humorously hard to piece together a solid meal from their fairly robust and varied inventory — but they had more than enough to be a valued neighborhood resource.
After Shady Grove didn’t work out, the closest downtown had to a grocery was the 7/11s. That’s not a cute look for a downtown trying to position itself as the region’s chic residential destination.
Enter NFK Farm Market at Commune, in the Texaco Building at Granby and Olney. It is having its official grand opening this Saturday from 8am to 4pm. Bring a take away bag and recipes to dream on.
According to Commune, vendors will be on hand sampling their products, and will have a great selection of local produce and products like cheeses from Mountain View Farm Products, LLC and Sullivan’s Pond Farm, meats from Cartwright Family Farm, Pungo-Tuck Local Beef Co. and Edwards Virginia Smokehouse, breads and pastries from Commune, pasture raised eggs, local honey, grains and flours and much more.
The same guy, Kevin Jamison, owns both Commune and New Earth Farm in Virginia Beach, where much of the produce is grown. This is not just a fun side business: it’s a true farmer’s market.
“To be able to have the market right inside the restaurant is such a dream for us,” said Jamison. “Being able to offer the same local ingredients we use in the restaurant to the public is so important in the creation and support of a functional local food system — the goal is to maximize the availability of these products.”
NFK Farm Market, which should be open daily, is not the long term answer to downtown’s day-to-day food needs. If you put a crystal ball to my head I would guess that there will be a new grocery store in either the NEON or St. Paul’s within the next 18 months. For now, the market will be a great option for picking up quality, healthy food to live on.
This is, indeed, both a cause and a business for Jamison.
“If we can increase revenue for local farms it’s a huge step towards helping them become sustainable as businesses,” said Jamison. “This is a food security issue and it’s something that needs to happen everywhere. We shouldn’t have to depend on food produced across the country or overseas. It’s too risky. Any number of disruptions could happen that could cut off a ‘foreign’ food supply and we need to be sure that we can feed ourselves if that were to happen. Additionally, the shipment of food around the world is one of the biggest contributors to environmental problems.”
Please, folks, support what you believe in! One of my biggest personal regrets in Norfolk was not taking the time to frequent Five Points Farm Market as often as I should have…. and now it’s closed. Particularly if you live or work downtown, be a part of downtown becoming more livable and dynamic by going out of your way to support awesome — and healthy! — projects like this.
For more, here is the event on Facebook.