Question: What is the surest sign that spring has finally arrived? Answer: The Reston Farmers Market opens this Saturday at Lake Anne Village Center. The Market is back, stronger than ever: 27 of the 28 farmer-vendors return for the 2014 season, along with the problem-solving volunteers from the Fairfax Master Gardeners. And, there are some interesting and important additions.
In the off-season, Market volunteers (Fran and I) recruited rancher and author, Forrest Pritchard of Smith Meadows Farm. Mr. Pritchard wrote best-selling “Gaining Ground,” the story of converting his traditional family farm into a wholly grass-fed operation. His farm adds to an already strong offering of quality meats in Reston. Smith Meadows also brings home-made pastas to the Market, to go with existing offerings including: the only fresh seafood stand in a County market; four quality bakeries; an impressive selection of fruits and veggies—including Sunnyside’s organics and Potomac’s ecoganics; fine goat and cow cheeses; honey; Virginia Vistas’ always flowering plants; and Kettle Corn.
After several years’ absence, a food assistance program returns to the Reston Farmers Market. For many years, the WIC (Women, Infants and Children food stamps) program was an active part of the Market, with farmers participating and many low-income Reston resident families benefiting. But, the program was defunded by Virginia about five years ago. This season, supplemental food assistance returns in the form of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Thanks to efforts by FCPA staff and to Cornerstones (formerly Reston Interfaith), which will manage the program at the Reston Farmers Market, more families will be able to access the market’s fresh, nutritious foods. Generous local donors, including the United Christian Parish, INOVA and several individuals are already contributing supplemental dollars to the program. As one would expect in Reston, SNAP is a real community effort.
While there may be some other changes at Lake Anne on Saturday mornings, including rearranged locations for nonprofits and community organizations’ tables in order to accommodate prepared foods and meals coming in the separate Crafts Market, the Reston Farmers Market will be in the same place. Furthermore, while the exciting plans for Lake Anne redevelopment are moving forward including a central location for the Reston Farmers Market very near its present location, the temporary relocation of the Market during the construction phase is at least four years away, according to the developer.
My taste buds are already twitching, sensing the arrival of spring and the great local tastes we’ll find in the 2014 Reston Farmers Market.