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Farmers Market Going Strong in New Location

Weekly market features locally grown produce, meats, beauty products.

Jennifer Downey of Night Sky Farms, one of the many vendors at the Great Falls Farmers Market. Downey specializes in dairy products, cheeses as well as body soaps, lotions and other cleaning products.

Jennifer Downey of Night Sky Farms, one of the many vendors at the Great Falls Farmers Market. Downey specializes in dairy products, cheeses as well as body soaps, lotions and other cleaning products. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— Every Saturday morning the Great Falls Farmers Market offers fresh produce and other unique, homemade goods, of which many come directly from Great Falls itself. Now located at the Great Falls Village Centre (in the parking lot next to Wells Fargo) every Saturday, it features a variety of vendors both returning and new.

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From left, Katie Cole and Caitlyn Shumway, Langley High School alumni who started their own business CK Creations, which features jams, jellies and caramel popcorn at the Great Falls Farmers Market.

Katie Cole and Caitlyn Shumway, recent Langley graduates, just finished their freshman years at Christopher Newport University. With dreams of one day opening a bakery, the two have used the farmers market to start small with homemade jams, jellies and caramel corn under the name CK Creations.

"It’s been a great learning experience, we’ve learned all about the hard work a business takes," Shumway said. "But we’ve also learned that it’s worth it, we’ve started seeing some regular customers, and it’s rewarding to start to see your hard work pay off."

GROWN LOCALLY in Great Falls, the produce from Maple Avenue Market Farm has all been harvested less than 24 hours before each market. They have a variety of greens for sale, and owner Sarah Guerre, who runs the farm with her husband Chris, says they’ll be featuring cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, okra and more as the growing season progresses.

"We’re still planting every day, and we’re getting to the end of the spring vegetables, but the summer ones haven’t come in yet," Sarah Guerre said.

Backyard Eden is another company whose products come straight from Great Falls. Purveyors of honey, apiarist Jeff Rainey says they’re just doing their part to keep the pollination cycle going.

"We have organic gardens and the bees can pollinate those and nearby gardens. We’ve had a lot of bee colony collapse recently due to use of herbicides and pesticides, so we’re doing our part to give back," Rainey said. "Our honey is raw, meaning it’s not heat processed, so it still has all the good enzymes in it."

Rainey’s booth also featured a wide variety of beekeeping literature available to those interested in the science of bees and pollination.

Sarah Wehri, owner of Amalthea Ridge, specializes in finding a unique use for goat’s milk, as the main ingredient in a variety of soaps, lotions and creams. A trained chemist, Wehri runs her goat farm in Great Falls and has been in business since December.

"The milk has a natural hydrating and exfoliating effect on skin," she said. "Being a chemist, I’ve got to figure out how the various ingredients will come out in the end, which makes good results for the customers, everything holds together well and is very consistent."

Some of Wehri’s products include ginger-lime and cranberry-pomegranate-scented soaps and lotions, as well as shaving creams and body scrubs.

"The best part about coming to the market is to see what people like and are interested in seeing in the future," she said. "We formulate everything based on what we want to accomplish."

Other products don’t come directly from Great Falls, but from in-state sources. The free-range eggs at High View Farms of Berryville, Va., might look a little different from store-bought eggs.

"The yolks are a bright yellow, almost orange, and that’s because they have less saturated fat and more omega-3’s than supermarket eggs," said Craig Hagaman of High View Farms. We also have chicken and Berkshire pork, which is a heritage breed that is mostly exported to Japan. It has more flavor and it’s marbled almost like beef."

Hagaman said his business has almost doubled this year since the farmer’s market moved.

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Janet Al-Hussaini, a master food volunteer who trained with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, at the Great Falls Farmers Market with advice and recipes on how to use produce found at the market.

Jennifer Downey of Night Sky farm in Brooknell, Va. is ranked grade A for dairy and features goat’s milk cheese as well as soaps, lotions and other personal products. They have 22 goats and two cows for milking.

"We want to show how diverse dairy can be, from our wide variety of cheeses to cleaning products with scents you’ll never smell in a grocery store," Downey said.

The laundry soaps have been rated highly by the Great Falls Citizens Association’s Environmental Committee for their positive interaction with septic systems, which most of Great Falls is on.

Also at the farmer’s market is a booth featuring information on different ways to use the produce purchased there. Janet Al-Hussaini, a master food volunteer who trained with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, is on hand with recipes and other information about healthy eating.

"There are so many ways to make healthy, simple meals with what’s available at the farmers market," she said. "But we can also help people make better food choices with things they’ve got sitting in the fridge or in the back of the cabinet."

At the Saturday, June 2 market, Al-Hussaini presented a cucumber yogurt salad, homemade marmalade and asparagus with garlic and rosemary.

THE GREAT FALLS FARMERS MARKET will take place every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Nov. 17.