2019 marks an important milestone for one of the oldest running farmers markets in the Virginia Commonwealth. The Arlington Farmers Market was founded in 1979 and will celebrate 40 years this spring, with a special commemorative event on April 27th, 2019, including kids’ activities and a keynote speech from Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Community Foodworks (CFW) will provide monthly at-market activity programming through the summer and fall on the fourth Saturday of each month.
Founded in 1979 by Ellen Bozeman, the longest-serving Arlington county board member to date, the Arlington Farmers Market has supported farmers and producers for four decades by running a producer-only farmers market: everyone you talk to at market can tell you the story of their products. During the prime season, the market hosts more than 40 farmers and vendors offering fresh fruits and vegetables, sustainably raised meats, eggs, and fish, artisanal bread and baked goods, dairy products, dog treats, and more, all grown or produced within 125 miles of the market.
The market as we see it today is the result of hard working people, working to highlight the importance of supporting local agriculture, working since before the term was widely known. Kimberly Haun, Arlington Urban Agriculture Coordinator, says, “I started coming to the market as an extension volunteer and soon became a regular shopper. I grew up with home gardeners and I really missed seasonally fresh produce. I’ve been so happy to not only shop here but to get to know the farmers and other producers. They are always eager to tell you about their products and I promise you there are some very interesting characters here!” When asked why patrons keep coming after forty years, Ms. Haun said that “people taste the amazing flavor difference they find in fresh produce. You can also talk about the health, economic and social benefits. But really, that taste-test is what gets them!”
For four decades, the Arlington Farmers Market has been a critical source of revenue for many small family farms in the region. Twin Springs Fruit Farm, based in Orrtanna, Pennsylvania, got their start with the Arlington Farmers Market. “We’ve been a part of the market since day one,” says Aubrey King, co-owner. “As one of the founding farmers, we’ve built up deep relationships with our customers over the years, some of whom we have seen raise their kids on Twin Springs fruits and vegetables – kids who are now adults shopping for their own families at market.”
“I have been part of this market for thirty years”, says Jesus Ochoa, owner of Linda Vista Farm located in Westmorland, Virginia. “We have a family business. My children have grown in this market, and now my grandchildren have joined us”.
Chris Girardot, owner and operator of RavenHook Bakery, based in Washington, DC, says that the Arlington Farmers Market has been a great space to build community. “People have been shopping here the whole 40 years. One of our now employees has been a patron of the market since the very beginning. The market’s age is a testament to the durability and the importance of what local food means to the neighborhood and to the community. People are there early to buy, every single week, no matter the weather.”
“We’re excited to support and celebrate 40 years at the Arlington Farmers Market!” said Kim Hutchinson, Executive Director of the Virginia Farmers Market Association (VAFMA). “Farmers markets are integral to the Commonwealth’s economy, food system, and communities. Foremost, farmers markets are important because they are the critical component in rebuilding local food economies. By providing a cost-effective, retail sales opportunity for local food producers, by connecting rural to urban and farmer to consumer, by bringing fresh ingredients to our diets, farmers markets are becoming economic and community centerpieces in cities and towns across Virginia.”
The market also plays an important role in improving health in the County, allowing residents with fewer resources to access high-quality products sold at the market. Since 2015, the nonprofit Community Foodworks has implemented incentive programs that provide a dollar-for-dollar match on all Federal benefits spent on fresh and nutritious produce and foods at the market. “These programs empower participants by increasing their purchasing power: with more money in their pockets, low-income customers increase their fruit and vegetable consumption, helping the local community stay healthy” explains Hugo Mogollon, Community Foodworks’ Executive Director.
We invite everyone to join us this season, bring a friend, bring the family, or strike out on your own and enjoy all that your local food community has to offer at the Arlington Farmers Market!
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Community Foodworks is a DC based non-profit organization that operates a portfolio of innovative food access programs through network of vibrant farmers markets, farm stands, and partnerships designed to improve the health and wellbeing of Washington DC Metro Area residents. CFW programs include matching programs, Veterans vouchers, food gleaning initiatives, and CSAs and wholesale deliveries. By incentivizing low-income customers to buy healthy, local food while developing new distribution channels for local farmers, CFW builds a stronger, more inclusive local food system.
Learn more at: http://www.community-foodworks.org/
General Operations Manager