When It Comes to Produce, the Trend is Local

With Virginia Farmer’s Market week around the corner, local markets as well as customers are supporting the community by purchasing locally grown produce.

By Lauren Boehnlein, Maureen Linke, Christina Rogers

In response to the growing popularity of Virginia farmers markets, Gov. Tim Kaine has designated August 2-8 as Farmer’s Market Week. Richmond shoppers recognize the importance of purchasing local produce.

“It supports our community and it’s good to keep things regional. Anytime you can support those around you it’s a good thing” said Jen Poe, a Lakeside Farmers Market customer.
Poe, like many customers, shops at the Lakeside Farmers Market in Henrico County which has only been in operation for two years. However it has seen a steady increase in its customer base and vendors since its opening in 2008.

“People are starting to realize that it’s here, that we’ve since started to establish ourselves, people have started coming out,” said Market Coordinator Julia Dunville.

This farmers market is open two days a week and hosts about 10 to 15 vendors per marketing period. Vendors bring their goods to the market from areas around the state including Henrico, Hanover and as far as Warsaw in Northern Virginia.

What Sets Lakeside Apart from the Rest

There are many other farmers markets in the Richmond area, including the 17th Street Farmers Market that is located in Shockoe Bottom, which has over a 100 year history in the Richmond area. But there are certain things that set Lakeside apart from all the rest.


Evelyn Allen has worked at the 17th Street Market for over 65 years.

Evelyn Allen, 17th Street Farmer's Market in downtown Shockoe Bottom.


“The 17th Street has evolved into things that are more than just produce market, they do the whole festival approach to it,” said Peter Francisco, the owner of the Lakeside Farmers Market. “What makes us different than almost any other market is that we are produce only.”
Francisco says that the market is regulated by a provisional use permit from Henrico County that states that they cannot sell arts and crafts or prepared or processed foods.

“We sell strictly things that come off the farm. If it is a processed item, like baked goods, they are regulated by the Virginia Department of Agriculture.”

In addition to being a produce only market, Lakeside strives to give back to the community and the local economy.


Yasmeen Bey of Tea Co.

Yasmeen Bey is a vendor as well as co-owner of Tea Co. She shares her thoughts on how farmers contribute the local economy. To learn more, click here


“We focus on economic redevelopment…we are privately owned,” said Francisco. “17th street is funded by the Economic Development Department of Virginia.”

Additionally, the Lakeside market strives to incorporate a more educational aspect to their market. A couple weeks ago, an agricultural extension agent came to show customers how to safely preserve and can foods.

“We try to have something of value like that, while it may not be a big production, but people can talk to vendors to get information,” said Sharon Francisco.

Virginia farmers markets offer a variety of local produce not available in grocery stores.

“They have things that you can’t buy anywhere else,” said Wayne Moffett, a shopper who frequents both the downtown and Lakeside farmers markets.



It’s farm to table at this local restaurant. Owner Lisa Granger and Chef Jeff Mosca discuss the benefits of purchasing and serving locally grown produce at the Fat Goat in Lakeside, Virginia.


The number of Virginia farmers markets has doubled since 2005, and there are more than 170 statewide. Locals who previously shopped only in grocery stores are taking notice.

“It’s our first time here, we came by because we wanted to see what was available,” said shopper Jane Phillips. “We are actually checking out two today to do a comparison. I feel like fresh food is healthier and supporting the community we live in are reasons everyone should start shopping at the farmer’s markets if they don’t already.”


Farmers Market Week in Virginia

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), farmers markets help to keep Virginia’s economy strong by helping to sustain working farms. Additionally, the site states that farmers markets in the state have a $55 billion dollar impact on the Virginia economy and have provided over 350,000 jobs.


Tom Winston, a third generation farmer, feels purchasing local produce is vital not only to the economy but to the health of the community. Pesticide free, naturally grown produce has many other benefits besides taste. Click here to learn more.


Throughout the week, various markets and organizations state-wide are holding various events to celebrate.

“Somebody is going to come do some onsite cooking with some of the produce,” said Dunville.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are sponsoring an Eat Local Recipe Contest in conjunction with Virginia Grown. The only stipulation of the contest is that contestants must use as many locally grown and produced products as possible.

Additional Hyperlinks:

Eat Local Chief Recipes

Local Harvest


~ by Maureen Linke on August 1, 2009.

One Response to “When It Comes to Produce, the Trend is Local”

  1. Well written story….

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