Great Falls Fairfax County is home of dozens of farmer’s markets throughout the year, but by November, almost all of them have shuttered for the winter before re-opening in the spring. But the Great Falls Farmer’s Market is open year-round, offering produce and other items throughout the winter.
"We did a survey in November and asked if people were interested in a winter farmer’s market, and we got a very positive response," said Kathleen Murphy, who oversees the market. "At first we asked if they wanted a monthly bulk purchase market, but people really wanted the regular market."
The market is located in its usual location most weekends, in the parking lot next to the Wells Fargo at the Great Falls Village Centre, but wintry conditions have forced them inside the last few weeks, to the nearby Maison du Vin.
If the temperature outside is less than 32 degrees or there are high winds, the market moves indoors. This is due to certain products, like honey from Backyard Eden (made in Great Falls by local apiarist Jeff Rainey) and some of the vegetables, which will freeze in such conditions.
MANY OF THE MARKET’S SIGNATURE PRODUCTS are available during the winter. Murphy herself brings in vegetables from Tuscarora Organic Growers, a co-op of 44 families in Pennsylvania. A selection of winter root vegetables, such as carrots, onions, shallots, garlic, beets and turnips are available.
Certain items come up from week to week that shoppers enjoy experimenting with. The Saturday, Feb. 2, market featured a selection of baby cabbages that many shoppers had never seen before.
"I love the fresh produce, I try and get it all here, because I know that it’s coming directly from a farm, no chemicals, no herbicides or anything like that," said Julie Ben-Achour of Great Falls. "I do as much shopping as I can here, eggs, honey and herbs. I’ve been really into the fresh sage the last few weeks, I like to put it in my tea."
The produce selection also features several kinds of mushrooms, and micro-greens such as baby arugula and baby chard that have been very popular.
"I come here to try veggies and produce I’ve never had before, and I’ve had pretty good luck recently trying the purple top turnips and baby greens," said Danni Lougee of Great Falls. "There’s a lot on my list when I come every week, bratwurst, honey, chocolate, I have to pick up all of these things when I come by."
High View Farms out of Berryville, Va., is a mainstay at the market, with Berkshire pork and chicken products, including eggs, sausage and pork chops.
"We try and have a special every week on a product, this week for the Super Bowl we did bratwurst and wings," said Craig Hagaman, farmer at High View. "We started using Berkshire pork because it’s a heritage breed that chefs like to use, but it’s not all that common among big farms, because the animals don’t put on weight as fast. But it’s got a great flavor and that’s what we’ve been selling, that’s the only kind of pork we do now."
FOOD ISN’T THE ONLY THING available at the market. Amalthea Ridge, a goat farm in Great Falls, is at the winter market, with a collection of beauty and hygiene products that are made from goat’s milk.
"We’ve been trying to incorporate more local ingredients in our products, we’ve been using tea from Laurie Bell of the Great Falls Tea Garden, and honey from Jeff’s Backyard Eden, and we’re looking at more," said Keyvan Moussavi, who runs the farm with his wife Sarah Wehri.
Wehri is a chemist by training, and uses her knowledge to come up with interesting combinations using the goat’s milk and such ingredients as tea tree oil, oatmeal, lavender, peppermint, peach, green tea and more.
They make everything from soap bars to lotions and scrubs to shaving cream and aftershave lotion.
The Great Falls Farmer’s Market takes place every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.