Despite a drippy and slow first day in May, The West End Farmers Market has been thriving this summer. Word of mouth, signs in the community, sidewalk chalk advertising, favorite vendors from last year combined with new vendors has created a growing number of loyal customers. With so many rich luscious, fresh foods and colorful, exciting artists and craftspeople, the market has an energetic buzz and excitement all its own. If you are a big fan of the West End Farmers Market, vote for it in this summer’s America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest at www.farmland.org/vote.
The contest is sponsored by the nonprofit agency American Farmland Trust, which is committed to protecting the nation’s best farm and ranch land and improving the economic viability of agriculture.
AFT feels that Farmers markets are an asset to our communities and deserve a lot of support. The winning farmers market will receive free Food to Fork shopping bags to give away to their customers. The winner will be announced in late August.
If you are looking for some delectable goodies to put in those shopping bags consider some of our newest vendors. This year the market has added wines from a local vineyard, North Gate Vineyards, micro-greens, salsa, and humus from Wisteria Gardens, fresh roasted coffee beans from Beanetics, local honey from Bees and Blossoms, baked goods from the French bakery Bonaparte Breads, decorated chocolates as well as fresh milk from J-Wen Farms. J-Wen Farms sells small containers of chocolate, strawberry, orange and root-beer flavored milk. You won’t believe how good they are until you try them. These new vendors complement the vendors who have returned from last year.
Tommy Tompkins, affectionately named the cheese man, has returned this year with his famous “stinky” cave cheese, an eating sensation fit for royalty, along with his other cheeses, including creamy delicious goat cheese, yogurt, eggs, and Amish baked goods. Many of you may have noticed that Tommy was set up all winter outside the now-closed coffee shop, freezing in the cold, to satisfy his customers. This summer, the tent next to Tommy, complementing his rich cheeses, is North Gate Vineyards, a Virginia Winery offering delicious red and white wines. At either end of the market you can buy freshly baked baguettes, sourdough and garlic breads, croissants, pastries, and tarts to go with the wine and cheese. Looking for some salad makings? Four vendors offer lettuces, micro-greens, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, onions, radishes, beans and beets, to name a few of their vegetables, and if you need a great vinaigrette or dressing to complete your meal make your way to ON the GOurmet truck Parked at one end of the market, they offer condiments of all kinds made locally. You can also buy organic local meats, including bison from them and local gourmet ice-cream. Need some berries to top that delicious ice-cream? Barry Argento of Papa’s Orchards and Alma Diaz of Westmoreland Berry Farm offer beautiful just-picked blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and the first peaches of the summer. Mouthwateringly juicy and sweet they are perfect over cereal, ice-cream or just by themselves. All kinds of melons and sweet corn will begin appearing in mid-July as well.
Responding to customer requests, market managers Julie Bryant and Susan Birchler have opened the market every Sunday to local artists and vendors. One of the favorite vendors, Peruvian Trends offers folk crafts from Peru including knitted puppets, embroidered purses and hats, shirts, jewelry and small carvings. A new vendor is offering hand woven scarves and cloth from Pakistan and India. The Pampered Princess always has an excellent array of $5.00 earrings to complement her homemade lip balm, hand creams and bath salts. Billie, the flower guy, offers breathtaking bouquets of cut flowers and his son William sells fresh-brewed coffee, ice-cold water, juices and sodas. SumerDuck Farm comes to the market as often as possible bringing handspun yarn from the wool of her alpacas and llamas, handmade soaps, creams and teas. Every week local artist Len Garon sets up his paintings of the Alexandria and Arlington scenery. You can contract with him to do a portrait of your pet. While your dog is being painted he or she can snack on Lisa Madden’s organic pet treats and while you are at her table, you can purchase a charming children’s apron. The market managers table gives away free recipes and information on local food. There is something for everyone at the West End Farmers Market.
If you haven’t visited us yet, please stop by. What better way to spend lovely summer mornings than to pick up fresh orange juice, a pastry, some berries, cream, eggs and cheese for brunch? AND don’t forget to vote at www.farmland.org/marketmanager. Thanks and see you at the market on Sundays, through November from 9AM to 1PM.