Clarke’s Farmer’s Market inaugurates a new summer season Saturday May 8th at the Town of Berryville municipal parking lot on Church Street. The market features locally grown produce, meats, fruits, honey, flowers, baked goods and more. The summer market runs every Saturday through the end of October.
Over two dozen vendors participate in the market. Some vendors operate all season long, and some lease space when certain produce is in season such as blue berries or pumpkins.
Here is a sampling of this year’s vendors: Art’s Barbeque, Chef Eloy’s Kickin’ Salsa, Black Dog Coffee, Blackwood Farm Honey, Fritz’s Pumpkins, Lavender Moon Soap, Mackintosh Fruit Farm, Mary’s English Muffin Bread, Oak Spring Dairy, Smallwoods Veggieporium, and newcomer Vine Ripe Farms.
The market has been a mainstay for those interested in local and organic produce for over a decade according to Anita Van Sice who assumed the helm as director this year after the retirement of long time director Mary Nagelvoort. “Mary was a big catalyst in keeping the market together for a number of years,” said Van Sice. “She’s been doing it ever since I’ve been there and I’m sure longer than that. She is a great person in the community, brought a lot of people into the market. She helped grow the market as far as getting the local vendors, not just anybody that came along.”
The Farmer’s Market association now has committees to share the workload. There is a Farmer’s Market website with a vendor list and newsletter. Want to keep up with daily market activities? Check out their new Facebook page: Clarke County Farmers Market
Van Sice is currently finalizing the list of vendors who will participate this year. “There’s a certain process in becoming a vendor,” she explained. “You want to have local for one thing.” Vendors from Clarke and those counties directly surrounding Clarke are eligible. “The County Extension Office has to give each vendor a producer’s certificate,” said Van Sice. “They go out and inspect the farms. Then they receive an Extension Agent’s certificate that certifies to us that you’re local.”
Not all of the market’s products are organic but all are locally produced. “I think the customers know when they are buying a tomato from the market, it was grown within their area as opposed to going to a grocery store and you don’t know where that tomato came from. Customers have a comfort level in knowing that their produce is locally grown. Local honey is really good for you. And we do have a honey man; Harry Jaffe. He’s Harry’s Honey. We have a couple of bakers. We have a bread person who does specialty breads with some things gluten free.”
Want to know some market etiquette? Here are some tips from the Farmer’s Market website:
- DO bring a market basket, tote bag, or shopping bag for your purchases to make carrying easier.
- DON’T bring a list. Part of the fun of a farmers’ market is to discover what vegetables and fruits are in season locally, what looks good and plan your meal accordingly.
- DO talk to us! We love telling you about our products. Ask for cooking tips or recipes.
- DO bring small bills and change if you can.
- DON’T expect to see corn in June or tropical fruits like oranges. This market is for locally grown produce only. Shoppers who get to know the market learn that strawberries are ready in June; blueberries and beans in July; corn, melons, and peaches in August; and apples and pumpkins in October.
- DO remember that you can get fixings for meals at the market like eggs, meats, a pie for dessert, and flowers for your table.
- DO stay awhile and enjoy the market. REMEMBER, supporting local agriculture and local farmers helps the farms and supports open spaces.
- If you bring a dog to the market, it must be on a leash to protect children and vendor displays and to avoid confrontations with other dogs.
The Farmer’s Market also runs a winter season market from November through April. That market operates one Saturday per month and just finished it’s season. The winter market has been running two years. Plans are underway to evaluate whether more days could be added to the market or whether an indoor location is preferred.