78 Acres, Kiwi Kuisine, Arnest Seafood, LoKL Gourmet, Baguette Republic, Misty Meadow Farm Creamery, Blue Ridge Dairy, Mt. Olympus Farm, Breezy Meadows Farms, Nitro's Ice Cream, Cavanna Pasta, Penn Farm, Caprikorn Farms, Potomac Vegetable Farms, Colonial Kettle Corn, Reid's Orchard, Farm at Sunnyside, Smith Family Farm, Fresh Crunch, Spring Valley Farm/Orchard, Glascocks Produce, Stallard Road Farms, Grace's Pastries, Toigo Orchards, GreenFare Organic Café, Valentines Bakery & Meats, Good Omen Farm, Glascocks Produce, Virginia Vistas Greenhouse (May-July) (shares space with Noshy), J & W Valley View Farm, and Zaynas Delight.
It's a little after 1:45 a.m., Saturday morning, April 21. Dawn won’t break for almost six hours, but one of the vendors for the Reston Farmers Market, Valentine Miller of Valentine’s Bakery & Meats in Orange, Va., is up and ready to go. He has to get his coolers and bins of fresh top-quality natural meats and homemade baked goods from the family home business onto his truck. The meats are all natural with no growth hormones, steroids or antibiotics. The family's fresh homemade baked turnovers, pies, sweet bread and coffee cakes take special care, as Miller's wife, Carletta baked them on Friday.
THREE AND A HALF HOURS and seventy-seven miles later, Miller pulls his truck into the Fairfax County Farmers Market at Lake Anne Village, 11401 North Shore Drive, Reston. Miller will be here every Saturday, April through December operating his stall, 8 a.m.- noon, except Sept. 22 when the market will be closed for the Multi-cultural Festival.
Miller is one of the 31 vendors at the 2018 Reston Market. Like the other vendors, he has only a short time to set up his tables and products and be ready for shoppers at one of the largest farmers markets in Fairfax County.
According to the Fairfax County Park Authority website, the markets are strictly producer-only, meaning that all of the farmers and producers may only sell what they raise on their farms or make from scratch. They are encouraged to use local ingredients in the creation of their products as much as possible. All farmers and producers come from within a 125-mile radius of Fairfax County.
Betsy Herbst of Misty Meadows Farm in Smithsburg, Md. pulls into the parking lot a little after 6 a.m. The temperature is 43 degrees.
"Just wish it would warm up a bit, she says. "So glad the farmers market finally started." Hess was up at 3:30 that morning packing the van. Misty Meadows will be at three markets this morning. The one Reston, one in Burke and another that is not part of the Fairfax County markets.
"Three markets sounded like a good idea, in hindsight," Herbst says. Allen Hess is with Herbst. Hess adds: "We've got it down to a science. We know what we are doing, how, when and where."
"And we can do this in under 15 minutes," chimes in Herbst.
The seller for today's market is Maria Miller. Miller talks while seated in the heated van and filling out the price board. "It's nice to come to the same market in Reston. I have been here for three years. The people are so friendly."
Mark Glascock is another vendor at the Reston market. It is now a little after 7. Glascock is setting up his tents and tables. As he works, Glascock tells that he and his wife Lauren run Glascock Produce out of Berkeley Springs, W.Va. "This is my life," Glascock says. "I was up at 3 a.m. I love all my farmers markets, but the Reston Farmers Market has been mine since it opened. I load three trucks every Friday."
An interesting question comes up. How are the farmers producing the produce? It has been a cold spring, yet here in the dawn's light table after table overflow with fresh produce, greens, flowers, and herbs.
Unloading her produce is Wanda Catlett, co-owner with her husband Jose, of J & W Valley View Farm of Westmoreland County. Catlett offers the answer.
"We started seeding the beginning of February in the three greenhouses. They are 20 by 100 feet. Then we planted the tomatoes, squash, and cukes in black mulch plastic, directly in the soil using a mulch layer. The black plastic helps with weed control, warms the soil and there's no need for herbicides. We may lose a few plants because of the cold. But we have 10,000 tomato plants out there."
Not everyone at the market is a farmer. Nate Gulnac is a teacher and works weekends, April through November for Toigo Orchards in Shippensburg Pennsylvania. "The family took a chance on me when I was in college. I really enjoy the family,” says Gulnac. At the end of May, I'm exhausted from teaching … It's nice to be outside again and I get to eat some fresh produce."
A NEW VENDOR at the Reston Market is Katey Wietor, owner of Good Omen Farm. "This is my first day at the market,“ Wietor says. "I was up at 4:30, as I live an hour away." On the table in front of Weitor are canning jars full of small vibrant-colored cut flowers, artistically designed and packets of herbs. Weitor grows her flowers and herbs in tunnels, plastic covered greenhouse-like structures close to the ground. She leases two acres in southern Fauquier County. As for the herbs, Weitor says it’s important to consume them. "Herbs complete your diet. Eating well isn't just about fruits and vegetables. It includes herbs in your diet."
Another new vendor at the Reston Market is Gwyn Whittaker, owner of GreenFare Organic Café in Herndon. She offers organic, whole plant meals prepared oil-free and with no added salt. They are ready to eat. GreenFare values seasonal and local produce and prepares all the food in their kitchen.
By now, the clock ticks toward 8 a.m. It’s almost the official start time for the Reston Farmers Market. John and Fran Lovaas, market managers, hold the bell. At exactly 8, John rings it with a passion and then even a greater passion.
The Reston Farmers Market, named one of the best markets in Northern Virginia by Northern Virginia Magazine, opens for its 20th season.