The Virginia is for Farmers Market Lovers Trail is a campaign to bring farmers market loving tourists and local foodies to Virginia farmers markets, agritourism operations, and local food restaurants. The program includes a farmers market trail as well as suggested agritourism and local food restaurant excursions in conjunction with a marketing campaign targeting out-of-region tourists who shop farmers markets at home. It also encourages resident market shoppers to see their local markets as destinations to bring their visiting foodie friends and relatives for a taste of place.
For Local Foodies, Farmers Markets are Destinations
As trusted sources of authenticity, transparency, and sustainability and with a tradition of educating consumers about food and agriculture, Virginia’s farmers markets are well positioned to serve as guides to their areas’ local food and agritourism experiences. They can provide recommendations for the restaurants that truly source their ingredients locally. They can steer visitors to the upick operations that are open that season. And they can recommend high quality family-friendly agritourism operations.
Local foodies love their home farmers markets – places where they get to interact with their farmers and food artisans, discover new foods and be surrounded by people who prioritize food quality, eating with the season and supporting their community. As travelers, local food lovers enjoy visiting farmers markets as part of their exploration of another location. Farmers markets offer tourists a taste of place — an opportunity to learn about food unique to the place they’re visiting. In a World Food Travel Association survey, tourism experts named visiting a local market to be the most effective experience for learning about local food culture, with 76% rating it as “extremely” or “very” effective.
The Virginia is for Farmers Market Lovers Trail is a campaign to entice farmers market lovers to see Virginia’s farmers markets as destinations – part of a fun and active food experience where they can visit a farmers market, a farm and a local food restaurant in an area. Virginia’s culinary scene has already been on the radar of foodies as a food destination. Adding an agritourism lens and promoting the food quality and innovation found at Virginia’s farmers markets will help entice local foodies to plan a trip to Virginia.
The Virginia is for Farmers Market Lovers Campaign
As part of the 2019 Virginia and National Farmers Market Week, Governor Northam, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Farmers Market Association (VAFMA) had a joint press event to launch Virginia is for Farmers Market Lovers. The governor presented a proclamation officially announcing Virginia is for Farmers Market Lovers. At this event, VAFMA announced the Virginia is for Farmers Market Lovers trail. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed implementation of the trail for two years until Spring 2022.
The campaign includes:
- Farmers market trail website – lovevamarkets.org
- API integration of trail map with partner websites
- Mobile app
- Rack cards in Virginia Welcome Centers and other locations
- Exhibiting at food and wine festivals
- Influencers marketing
- Social media advertising
- Directional road signs
- Hashtag: #lovevamarkets
Suggested agritourism excursions will be highlighted for five pilot markets in 2022. In partnership with their local tourism offices, the markets have recommended a variety of agricultural and local food destinations such as farms offering tours, upick farms, local food restaurants, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, breweries, wineries and more.
The five pilot markets are:
- Charlottesville City Markets and Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau
- FRESH FARM’s Arlington Farmers Market and Arlington Convention and Visitors Service
- Independence Farmers Market and Grayson County Community Development/Tourism
- RVAg’s Manakin Market and Goochland County Government and Goochland County Economic Development Authority
- Williamsburg Farmers Market and Williamsburg Tourism Council
Trail excursions will expand in future years to include more agritourism experiences. If you would like us to include your agritourism operation or local food restaurant, contact us.
Farmers Markets on the Trail
Find Virginia’s farmers markets on our map and directory page here. This is the map powering the farmers market trail.
Is your Virginia farmers market on our map?
To make sure your market is on the Virginia is for Farmers Market Lovers Trail, you must update your market’s info on Farmspread. This is the directory that feeds our map.
- Add your market to Farmspread
- OR Claim your market on Farmspread if you don’t have access to it
- Update your market info (and keep it updated)
- Email VAFMA requesting us to add it to the map.
- That’s it!
Use #loveVAmarkets on your social media posts
Funding for this publication was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant 21FMPPVA1084. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.