Posted by Sally Traynham / Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
Farmers Market season is just around the corner and I am stoked.
Last week, while dining with a few friends, we debated about how crazy and demanding we Americans can be: we always want what we want, when we want it. We complain that tomatoes are flavorless when we choose to eat them during off-season or instead decide it’s worth exponentially increasing our carbon footprints by relying on the global market to produce these cravings by flying produce across the country.
We often don’t opt for a more seasonal solution. I’m definitely guilty.
‘Tis the start of a new season.
This realization is why I will buy more and enjoy local food this summer with a huge grin on my face. Here is a list of a just a few (we’ll pull together a full list for July’s print issue) of NoVA’s most popular farmers markets where you can soon find deliciously grown and cared-for produce, taking part in the local food movement within your community.
Arlington Farmers Market (Summer Season Begins: end of April)
Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon in the Arlington County Courthouse Parking Lot, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington.
Falls Church Farmers Market (Summer Season Begin: end of April)
Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon in the City Hall Parking Lot, 300 Park Avenue, Falls Church.
Old Town Farmers Market (Summer Season Begins: end of April)
Saturdays from 5:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in Market Square, 301 King St., Alexandria.
Vienna Farmers Market (Summer Season Begin: May 5)
Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon on Church St. between Mill and Dominion Streets NE, Vienna.
Reston Farmers Market (Summer Season Begin: May 5)
Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon at Lake Anne Village Center, Reston.
Photo: Sally Traynham
[tips for the food desk]
Posted by The Editorial Desk / Thursday, August 18th, 2011
Wednesday was a beautiful night to spend outdoors, so I headed over to Arlington’s Central Library demonstration vegetable and herb garden, where Don Weber, USDA-ARS Entomologist and Plot Against Hunger volunteer, gave a talk and fielded questions about fall vegetable gardening. At the close of the night, attendees received seeds (including Bolero carrots) as well as collard, (Win Win) bok choy, and broccoli transplants for their own gardens.
Admittedly, I don’t know much about gardening, but it was clear that many of the approximately 35 attendees have been regularly getting their hands in the dirt (including a woman who brought a leaf from her pumpkin plants so that Weber could diagnose its ills—turns out her worries were ill-founded). Weber’s message for the night was that gardening fun does not have to end with the harvesting of warm season crops such as tomatoes, sweet corn and cucumber.
The end of summer and early fall is the most pleasant time of year to work in your garden, as the weather is milder. And your soil likes this season too—it retains water better. Generally, you will experience less of a pest problem (although the dreaded Harlequin bugs—related to the stink bug and also called “Sherman bugs” because they arrived in the South from Central America during the time of the Civil War—can wreck even more havoc in the fall.)
So what can you plant between now and mid-September? Cool season crops (broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, cabbage, lettuce and peas) prosper during the cooler days of autumn and can withstand light frosts; and frost-hardy crops (carrots, leeks, kale, Brussel sprouts, spinach, and turnips), as suggested by their moniker, are harvestable long after freezing weather.
Takeaway points of the night were:
1) Time of planting is essential.
2) Make sure that your soil is well taken care of before planting. You can use compost or some other nutrient amendment. Plant seeds deeper into the soil than you would for spring planting and consider placing a board (not cedar or pressure-treated) over the seeded soil until sprouts are visible.
3) Transplants are more resistant to heat, drought, and pests as opposed to seeds, so you may consider planting these during August and September. If you use seeds, you may want to invest in pelletized seeds for plants that are slow to germinate, like carrots, celery and spinach. These seeds are coated in clay, thereby retaining hydration better.
Weber presented attendees with a vegetable planting guide (available here), which details depth for planting, spacing of crops, and fall planting dates. He cautioned that it was specifically tailored for Arlington’s microclimate (where the first killing frost arrives around early to mid-November), so don’t expect to have the same success in, say, Leesburg. (To create your own guide for other microclimates, he suggests using the Johnny’s Selected Seed calculator.)
Are you a curious gardener who wants to get regular advice from the experts? Here are a few invaluable resources:
- Stop by the Plants Clinic held at the Central library by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia on Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m.
- Visit the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia tables at three area farners markets (Arlington from 8-11 a.m.; Old Town, Alexandria from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m.; and Del Ray from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.)
- Get help year round by calling the Master Gardener Help Desk: (703) 228-6414.
Other upcoming events at the library include an August 31 talk on both composting and “bodywise” gardening (i.e., how not to hurt yourself ) and inside the library in September, a lecture by Dan Redmond on the agricultural history of Arlington County.
Happy gardening! And speaking of gardens . . . be sure to read tomorrow’s Gut Check for more information on the Arlington Central library’s demonstration garden and the Arlington Food Assistance Center’s Plot Against Hunger program.
-Johnisha M. Levi
Posted by The Editorial Desk / Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
If you frequent the Arlington Farmers Market on Saturdays, Cibola Farms is a familiar vendor. Cibola Farms was founded by Rob Ferguson and Mike Sipes in 1999. It “produces bison and free-range hogs and direct markets buffalo meats and free-range pork using sustainable management practices” and humane handling techniques.
The Cibola stand is the one dominated by multiple coolers holding a smorgasbord of pasture-raised bison and free range pork products. And if you have shopped at the market during the last year, you might have had the pleasure of meeting Jerry Settle.
Jerry, with his easy and warm smile, starts his morning when most of us are still dead to the world. He arrives at the farm at 4:00 a.m., packs up the truck, and leaves from Culpeper around 4:15 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. for the markets. He stops by Falls Church to unload buffalo and pork cargo for the farmers market there, and then heads over to the Arlington Market by about 6:30 a.m. (Cibola Farms also regularly sells at a third farmers market, in Dupont Circle.)
Once at the Arlington Market, he must wait until 7:00 a.m. sharp to set up the Cibola stand. None of the vendors can begin selling product until 8:00 a.m. Those are the rules.
You can buy an impressive array of bison and pork products at the market — everything from steaks, roasts, ribs, ground meat, jerky, bacon, ham and lard, sausage/hot dogs, and even soup bones. I have been eagerly working my way through the inventory on my Saturday morning visits.
Cibola customers are passionate and loyal. One customer of three years who is temporarily relocating to Georgia purchased coolers full of products to the tune of $150 because he just can’t go without for that long. Especially without his favorite, the summer sausage.
My personal new favorites now that summer has come around are Cibola’s American Buffalo Hot Dogs. Hot dogs are the perfect summer grill food, but I never much cared for pork dogs. That is why my husband and I were intrigued by the promise of Cibola’s buffalo dogs. We first purchased the dogs when we couldn’t find the Cibola buffalo chili that we’d regularly purchase for weekend lunch, and when we felt like something different than the buffalo patties.
The buffalo dogs have been custom made for the farm for the last nine years and sell for $9.50 per pound. (A pack of four dogs cost me $7.98.) Ferguson explained that the hot dogs are “emulsified meats (whipped up to a fine and tender consistency) and fully cooked” whereas the buffalo half-smokes that you will also see at the market are “coarsely ground and a raw product.” The dogs have become popular at the markets, especially when Cibola used to do cooking demonstrations. People started out skeptical, and then couldn’t get enough.
Buffalo is a good healthier alternative to pork or beef dogs as the meat is leaner, contains more protein, but with less calories and cholesterol.
Because of condo rules, I regrettably don’t have a real grill. But I “fire up” my grill pan for the Cibola dogs so I can get some “grill” marks and pretend. ( Ok, pathetic.) There is a delightful smokiness to the dog that stands up well to a combination of mustard and ketchup, but also allows the dog to be perfectly satisfying and flavorful sans condiments. The interior of these dogs have a darker/richer hue — not that artificial, eraser pink of the run-of-a-mill store-bought dog. I am also not a huge fan of natural casing hot dogs, so the fully cooked, casing free Cibola dog is ideal in my opinion. Unlike this Weiner, which is one that only a mother could love, Cibola’s buffalo wiener is obscenely good. And safe to Tweet about. (I wouldn’t lie!)
- Johnisha M. Levi
Northern Virginia’s Farmers Markets and Hours
Annandale Farmers Market • 6621 Columbia Pike, Annandale – Thu, 8-noon
Arlington Farmers Market • N. 14th St. & N. Courthouse Road, Arlington – Sat, 8-noon
Ashburn Farmers Market • 44036 Pipeline Plaza, Ashburn – Sat, 8-noon
Ballston Farmers Market • N. Stuart St. & N. Ninth St. – Thu, 3-7 p.m.
Brambleton Farmers Market • 22875 Brambleton Plaza, Ashburn – Sun, 9-1 p.m.
Burke Farmers Market • 5671 Roberts Parkway, Burke – Sat, 8-noon
Cascades Farmers Market • 21060 Whitfield Place, Sterling – Sun, 9-1 p.m.
Clarendon Farmers Market • 3100 Wilson Blvd., Arlington – Wed, 3-7 p.m.
Columbia Pike Farmers Market • S. Walter Reed Drive & Columbia Pike – Sun, 9-1 p.m.
Community Farmers Market • West & Main Streets (Sat), North St. & Old Lee Highway (Sun), Fairfax – Sat: 8-1 p.m. (May-Oct); Sun: 10-2 p.m.
Crystal City Farmers Market • Crystal Square Arcade between S. 18th and 20th Streets – Tue, 3-7 p.m.
Culpeper Farmers Market • E. Davis & Commerce Streets – Sat, 7:30-noon
Dale City Farmers Market • Dale Blvd. & Minnieville Road, Dale City – Sun, 8-1 p.m.
Del Ray Farmers’ Market • E. Oxford & Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria – Sat, 8-noon
Fairfax Farmers Market • 3720 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax – Tue, 8-noon
Falls Church Farmers Market • 300 Park Ave., Falls Church – Sat, 9-noon (Jan-Mar); Sat, 8-noon
Fredericksburg Farmers Market • George and Prince Edward Streets, Fredericksburg – Mon-Sat, 7-6 p.m.; Sun, 12:30-4 p.m.
Frying Pan Farmers Market • 2709 West Ox Road, Herndon – Wed, 8-12:30 p.m.
Great Falls Farmers Market • 750 Walker Road, Great Falls – Sat, 9-1 p.m.
Haymarket Farmers Market • 1500 Washington St., Haymarket – Sat, 8-2 p.m.
Herndon Farmers Market • Lynn and Station Streets, Herndon – Thu, 8-noon
Kingstowne Farmers Market • Kingstowne Center & Kingstowne Blvd., Franconia – Fri, 4-7 p.m.
Leesburg Farmers Market • 20 Catoctin Circle S.E., Leesburg – Sat, 8-noon
Lorton Farmers Market • 8990 Lorton Station Blvd., Lorton – Sun, 9-1 p.m.
McLean Farmers Market • 1659 Chain Bridge Road, McLean – Fri, 8-noon
McLeans’ Lifestyle and Farmers Market • 7920 Jones Branch Drive, McLean; Saturdays, 9-1p.m.
Middleburg Farmers Market • 300 W. Washington St., Middleburg – Sat, 8-noon
Mount Vernon Farmers Market • 2501 Sherwood Hall Lane, Alexandria – Tue, 8-noon
Oakton Farmers Market • 3200 Jermantown Road, Oakton – Wed, 8-noon
Old Town Alexandria Farmers Market • 301 King St., Alexandria – Sat, 5:30-11 a.m.
Old Town Manassas Farmers Market • 9201 Center St., Manassas – Thu, 7-1 p.m. (Apr-Nov); Sat, 7:30-2:30 p.m.
Nokesville Farmers Market • 13005 Fitzwater Drive, Nokesville – Sat, 8-noon
Purcellville Farmers Market • 751 E. Main St., Purcellville – Sat, 8-noon
Reston Farmers Market • 11400 Washington Plaza W., Reston – Sat, 8-noon
Rosslyn Farmers Market • Wilson Blvd. & N. Oak St.- Thu, 11-3 p.m.
Upper King Street Farmers Market • 1806 King St., Alexandria – Wed, 3-7 p.m.
Vienna Farmers Market • 131 Church St. N.E., Vienna – Sat, 8-noon
Wakefield Farmers Market • 8100 Braddock Road, Annandale – Wed, 2-6 p.m.
Warrenton Farmers Market • Branch Drive and Warrenton Village Center (Wed), S. Fifth & Lee Streets (Sat) – Wed, 7-1 p.m.; Sat, 7-noon
West End Farmers Market • 4800 Brenman Park Drive, Alexandria – Sun, 9-1 p.m.
Or click here for our full list of local farmers markets