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Column: Where the Bison Roam—RFM 2012

Let’s make it official. Northern Virginia’s number one farmers market, the Reston Farmers Market, will sound its opening bell of the 2012 season at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 5. Less than three weeks from now.

A little background. The Reston Farmers Market, at Lake Anne again this year, is one of 11 farmers markets sponsored by Fairfax County’s Park Authority. All county-sponsored markets are producer-only markets, meaning that all those fruits, veggies, and meats must be grown by the folks selling them to you. Further, everything at the market is grown or produced within 125 miles of here—local and fresh. These are the characteristics of a real farmers market.

This will be our 15th season and promises to be one of our best. There will be 29 vendors, a new high. In addition to the favorites you’ll recognize from past years, we’ve got some terrific new additions and a couple of returning favorites.

Three new vendors offer added variety. First, there is Blue Ridge Gardens, from west of us as the name suggests. Proprietor Jon VanSice sells upscale annuals and perennials as well as attractive flowering shrubs. Toya Tanis of New Family Naturals brings healthy vegetarian and gluten-free taste treats such as kale chips. Then there’s our top off-season recruit, Gunpowder Bison and Trading Company. Late last year, Fran and I heard about a highly regarded bison (proper name for buffalo) ranch west of Baltimore. So we trekked up to visit Trey Lewis and his bison one morning. We were most impressed with his ranch and his products. Turns out he’d heard of the Reston Farmers Market, too! We are delighted to welcome these wonderful new additions.

More good news. Two long-time former RFM favorite surprised us by asking to return this season. The returning RFM veterans are Robin Collins of Virginia Vistas and Valentine Miller of Valentine’s Country Bakery and Meats. Virginia Vistas is the premiere plant vendor in the region. Valentine’s previously was known for baked goods including his legendary whoopee pie, but now also offers a large array of meats, including occasionally rabbit and goat.

Add dazzling new RFM T-shirts with artwork by Lake Anne’s Sarah Gerould, the wonderful Master Gardeners, plus appearances by the Split String Soup bluegrass band and 2012 should be a very good year. See our website, www.restonfarmersmarket.com, updated by Webmaster Sue Merk, for more info.

The Progressive is traveling. His column will return May 16.