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Monday, July 9, 2012

Farmers markets offer 'goat shares,' along with locally grown produce

You can find plenty of locally produced, high-quality but common items at the Fairfax County farmers markets, like just-picked peaches and tomatoes, but there are also some more unusual things, like “goat shares.”

At a recent trip to the market at Wakefield Park, the most popular items at the Lois’s Produce and Herbs were green beans, blackberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, and corn. There were also onions, basil, squash, potatoes, and enormous garlic bulb—all of grown on the Allensworth family’s 100-acre farm in Leedstown, Va.

Cantaloupes and other melons should also be available this week, said vendor Bob Barker said.

The Wakefield market is open on Wednesdays, 2-6 p.m., and the other Annandale Farmers Market, at Mason District Park, is open Thursdays, 8 a.m.-noon.

At a booth run by Massanutten Mountain Apiaries at Wakefield, beekeepers Pat and Jim Haskell were selling jars of honey produced by bees from the six hives in their backyard in the Camelot Square community in Annandale and their additional hives in Luray, Va.

According to Pat, a single hive can have as many as 60,000 bees at its peak. Pat also teaches beekeeping courses sponsored by the Beekeepers Association of Northern Virginia. Classes are held at various locations, including Luther Jackson Middle School.
Honey from Annandale bees.
At the farmers market, the Haskells offered pure honey in various sizes of glass jars and bear-shaped squeezable containers, plus jars of honey mixed with walnuts, almonds, or pecans.
Now about those “goat shares”: At his booth at the Wakefield market, John Adams of Stallard Road Farm in Rixeyville, Va., explained the concept: The only way you can legally get raw dairy products from goats in Virginia is to own a goat. By purchasing a “share,” you can get the benefits of goat ownership without having to actually care for and feed the animal.

Adams was selling goat shares for $40 plus an $8-a-week boarding fee. For that, you get a half-gallon of raw goat milk a week during the milk-producing season, which is about 26 to 38 weeks a year. The weekly fee is $12 for a half-pound of goat cheese and $10 for  a combination of milk and cheese.

The 66-acre Stallard Road Farm produces “responsibly grown” beef, eggs, herbs, and dairy products.
Also at the Stallard booth: herbal tea made by John’s wife, Katherine, from cloverleaf, spearmint, yarrow, and chamomile; herbal salves; honey; and beef that had been dry-aged for 21 days. It comes from humanely raised, free range cattle that had been “grass finished,” which means they eat grass rather than hay and had not been exposed to antibiotics, pesticides, or herbicides.
The Wakefield market will be open weekly through the end of October; the Annandale market will be open through Nov. 1.

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