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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Six things to do at the farmers market

The Fairfax County farmers markets opened for the season last week – offering in-season fresh produce and all kinds of other homemade goodies. The Wakefield Market, in the parking lot at Wakefield Park in Annandale happens on Wednesday afternoons 2-6 p.m. The Annandale Market, at Mason District Park on Columbia Pike is open Thursday mornings, 8-noon.

Here are some tips based on what we found on a visit to the Wakefield market last week:

(1) Pick up a fresh bunch of asparagus from Lois’ Produce. Also in season now: huge spring onions, gerbera daisies, and strawberries, which are three weeks earlier than usual, due to the warm weather in March, says vendor Bill Grigsby.

Aspargus from Lois' Produce.
They also had sweet potatoes wintered over from last year. “The longer you keep them, the sweeter they get,” Grigsby says. Peas and squash will be coming in soon.

Fresh juice blends from Kiwi Kuisine.
(2) Try a New Zealand-style steak and Guinness meat pie from Kiwi Kuisine. They have several varieties, including roast lamb and steak and cheese.

They’ve also got freshly blended juices, such as “red dragon” (beets, apple, kale, cranberry, and lime), and ice cream, including passion fruit and “hokey pokey” (vanilla with honeycomb toffee). Kiwi Kuisine was founded by Bert “Ram” Todd, a Maori rugby player now playing and coaching rugby in D.C.

Diane Runnels (left) and Sigrid Muller from the Green Spring Gardens Master Gardener program.
(3) Learn how to get started with container gardening from Green Spring Gardens Master Gardeners.  Representatives from the Fairfax County Master Gardener Association are also at the market providing general advice about gardening and can have your soil and pest samples analyzed.

These eggs were laid by free-range chickens at Byrd Farm.
(4) Get some fresh eggs hatched by free-range chickens who were never given antibiotics or growth hormones. Farmer Deb Stoneman, a retired accountant who also used to have a florist shop, owns Byrd Farm in Goochland County, where she also grows vegetables and makes her own jam, as well as raises 150 chickens. “This is farm more fun,” she says.

French breakfast radishes, chard, kale, and salad greens are in season now, Stoneman says. In a week or so, she plans to bring strawberries, eggplants, and peppers to the market.

Lovely radishes and greens from F.J. Medina & Son Farm.
(5) Pick up an odd-looking purple or white kohlrabi grown by F.J. Medina & Son Farm in Westmoreland County. The best-sellers at their booth last week were beets, kale, and strawberries. If you want to start your own garden,  they’re also selling herb and vegetable seedlings.

John Panas of Bread & Water.
(6) Check out the six-food long “pain ancien” loaf, also known as Mediterranean bread, from the Bread & Water artisan bakery and cafe in Alexandria. The vendor, John Panas, was selling asiago cheese bread, croissants, muffins, Danishes, and much more. He co-owns the bakery with his son, Markos Panas, who’s also an artist with works on display in a New York gallery. Breadmaking is an art too, says John Panas.


  1. If only we had one that was accessible to working people. I can't be at the Annandale Farmer's market at 8 a.m. and still be in my office in D.C. by 9 a.m., and I can't be at Wakefield Park by 6 p.m. if I am still at my office in D.C. at 5 p.m. I guess the times work for enough people that the markets are profitable, but I am forced to take my business to the weekend ones.

  2. There's a farmers market at the Mosaic District in Merrifield on Sundays, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

  3. Here's a current link to all the farmers markets in the Dc area.

  4. We need a weekend market it Mason instead of these second hand choices that we always get in this dump.

    1. Honestly what the F is wrong with you? This market is great. I'm not pumped about the timing but I'm glad we have it.

    2. You must be high or rich dude. The majority of us work for a living so that puts this farmers market out of reach because it is on Thursdays, it may as well as be on Mars. This is just another example of how out of touch our districts govt is with the taxpayers and constituents.

    3. Or you could just drive 5 minutes to mosaic. I don't understand how that's hard.

  5. There are several other choices nearby, if the market on Thursday mornings doesn't work for you.

    FTR: I'm sick of people around here calling Annandale a "dump." Quit grumbling so much, get some fresh air, and enjoy the positive aspects of life--even if that means you have to literally sing in the rain!

    1. Thank you! Some people are just blind to the positive aspects of...anything. They seem to get a kick out of making everything sound bad; I don't keep that sort of person in my life, if I have the choice.

      Have a nice weekend!