Last Saturday morning in the parking lot at Lake Anne Plaza, a strange mix of scents filled the air: lilac, sage, thyme and kettle corn. Familiar to many people in the Reston area, the unusual potpourri was just one of the signs that the Reston Farmers’ Market had returned.
In its first showing of the year, the market drew hundreds of people anxious to buy fresh vegetables, fruit, dairy products and meats — not to mention a full assortment of plants. About 25 people had come too early, forced to wait for the venders to set up.
“We really enjoy this market,” said Sharon Davis, who said she comes here just about every week.
Jen Blum, who came for opening day with her two children, said, “We try and come every week, usually buying our fruits and veggies for the week.”
In its seventh year, the market offered meat and dairy products for the first time, everything from smoked ham to sausage cheese balls. “I can’t wait to get fresh butchered stuff rather than store-bought,” said Matt Roland of Reston. The meat vendor, Shannon Donley of Fertile Plains farm in Martinsburg, W.Va., sold out of five different products in two hours. He was selling hams, pork cuts, ground pork, ground sausage, and party and lunch favorites.
A vendor at the market in all seven years, Bryan Cook of Creekside Farms in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., sold out of much of his produce and plants. “[The lilac bunches] were sold out in 40 minutes,” Cook said. Cook’s son, Adam Cook, was the first dairy vender in the market’s history. Adam Cook provided fresh whole milk, fresh butter and three kinds of cheese. “Within a day our milk is bottled, and within two days it’s sold,” Bryan Cook said.
OTHER MAINSTAY VENDORS, like Mike McCormack, have become as celebrated as their commodities. McCormack is unmistakable at the market, wearing a large Cat-in-the-Hat-style hat. “I’ve been buying rhubarb from [McCormack] every spring,” said Davis.
Mary West of Mt. Olympus farm is also well known among her customers. “I’m known as the ‘pepper lady,’” she said. West offers 40 different kinds of peppers: green, red, yellow, purple and several kinds of hot pepper. Last Saturday, she was selling mostly plants and strawberries, her peppers not yet in season.
Colonial Kettle Corn was also a big draw, especially among the children, who bobbed and weaved through the crowd to get to the samples. “Typically, opening day is a little slow, but that’s not the case today,” said Glenn Burger of Colonial Kettle Corn.
Maggie Reid of Reid’s Orchard in Buchanan Valley, Pa., was consistently surrounded by customers buying fresh apples and herbs. Later in the season, she offers a large variety of fruits and vegetables, including 140 varieties of tomato.
“This market is strong, with a strong sense of community,” said Reid. “It’s diverse and fun, the people are friendly and everyone comes back.”
Reid, and some of the other venders, have noticed that the market has been much busier the last few years. “People realize it’s healthier and better flavor,” Reid said.