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Fresh Goods: To Market

Two farmers markets open this week in the Vienna area, selling locally homegrown and homemade products.

The farmers market at Nottoway Park, supervised by the Fairfax County Park Authority, will be closing down and packing up after its opening day by the time this paper hits the shelves Wednesday afternoon. The farmers market behind Town Hall, sponsored by the Vienna-Reston Jaycees, will lay out its first produce of the season this Saturday morning.

The market at Nottoway Park will be open every Wednesday from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. through Nov. 22. All of the items for sale at the market are raised, grown or made within 125 miles of Fairfax County, and are presented by their producers, said Susan McDonald of Greenspring Gardens, which oversees the county's farmers markets.

The standard fruits, vegetables, baked goods, cut flowers, potted plants, prepared foods, cider and honey will not be the only goods available. Last year, meat, dairy and eggs were added, and this year the Middleburg Ice Cream Factory will be offering organic, homemade ice cream, said Market Master Jean Janssen.

She also said Fields of Grace will be offering varieties of aged cheeses that were not available last year, and J&W Valley View Farm will, for the first time, bring a variety of fresh shell beans. Also, returning after a number of years will be Vienna's own Potomac Vegetables.

Other notable presences, said Janssen, include Sharkawi Farm, which offers various herbs, including those used for tea and for medicine, and Cenan's Bakery of Vienna.

On the first week, she said, produce will be limited primarily to strawberries, asparagus and small root vegetables, but the variety will increase until mid- to late summer.

Another feature of the market at Nottoway Park is the plant clinic operated by the "Master Gardeners," volunteers who have taken horticulture classes at Merrifield Gardens and will help market-goers determine their plants' ailments. Plant or insect samples can be brought in for pest identification or disease diagnosis. Master Gardeners are available from about 9 a.m. to noon through October.

McDonald said the advantages of shopping at a farmers market are that "you're supporting local farmers. And the food is very fresh. It comes right from the farm that day." She also noted that much of the produce is grown organically without pesticides.

THE FARMERS MARKET behind Town Hall will be open Saturdays from 8 a.m. until noon through Oct. 28 but will be moving to the caboose parking lot on Church Street, near the old train station, on June 3.

Among the available goods are produce, herbs, plants and flowers, and prepared foods, which will include baked goods, ciders, jams and jellies, salsa and tomato sauce. Also available will be dessert mixes, dips, marinades, meat rubs, soups and kettle corn. Early produce will be limited to strawberries, asparagus and root vegetables, with apricots, blueberries, cherries and raspberries becoming available in June, and the most variety offered July through September.

New to the market this year, said Karen Hackney of the Jaycees, is dairy vendor South Mountain Creamery, which will offer milk, yogurt and cheese, as well as Old Pioneer's Kitchen, bringing buckboard bacon and sausages. Between the eggs, bacon, bread and fruit salad, "you can come out Saturday morning and get all you need for your Sunday brunch," she said.

This market casts a wider net, bringing producers from within a 250-mile radius of Vienna, but also included in the lineup is Vienna's own Gypsy Hills, which Hackney said brings the market's best-selling dip, a dry mix for asparagus dip. Dairy will not be available the first week, but spices, dips and meat rubs will be available throughout the market's duration, she said.

Free samples, she added, will abound.

Hackney said that what little money the Jaycees make from the operation they will use to help families at Christmastime.

Both markets include only farmers and home businesses and operate rain or shine.