Locally produced food and farmers markets are like peanut butter and jelly. A perfect pairing.
Fill your reusable shopping bag this summer with local goods from any of 11 Fairfax County Park Authority farmers markets throughout the county. You’ll find local fruits, vegetables, flowers, baked goods, eggs, honey, cider and cheeses, and all products come from vendors located within 125 miles of Fairfax County.
When you buy local produce, you support sustainable agriculture in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and you bring home the freshest foods you can get outside of your own backyard.
Local parks, local food
Colvin Run Mill is part of the local food chain. The historic mill grinds white and yellow corn meal and whole wheat flour that is available in the historic site’s general store, at Frying Pan Farm Park and at the Maple Avenue Market in Vienna.
Get a taste of what professionals can do with local grain. Three area restaurants use Colvin Run’s grain – the Maple Avenue Restaurant in Vienna, the Cock and Bowl in Occoquan, and elements at the Hyatt Dulles Hotel near Dulles Airport.
Executive Chef Matthew Warschaw of elements says using local food is “part of the restaurant philosophy.” His menu also includes cured salami, ham, turkey, ice cream and peanuts from local sources.
“We have such great products here in Virginia,” Warschaw said, adding that the benefit of using local produce in his restaurant is “exposure for the guests.” He was introduced to Colvin Run Mill’s product last year while attending the 4-H Fair at Frying Pan Farm Park, and since then he’s used the mill’s grain regularly on his menu, in his buffet and for special occasions. He recently hosted a themed buffet that featured tastings of Colvin Run Mill foods that included the showcasing of paraphernalia from the mill. And he’s had guests ask about the mill’s products.
When you visit the markets, you’ll find that Colvin Run Mill isn’t the only Park Authority site that produces local food. Eggs from Frying Pan Farm Park are available and, of course, the animals on the farm take part in their own local food program by eating the farm’s corn and hay.
So follow the professional’s advice, and eat local this summer. You’ll find some unexpected treats at the many enticing, local markets across the county in Annandale, Burke, Herndon, Kingstowne, Lorton, McLean, Reston, Mount Vernon, at Oak Marr and Wakefield Parks, and at Frying Pan Farm Park. Addresses and schedules for each site are on the Park Authority website. In addition to the local produce, Fairfax County Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners offer plant clinics at some markets to help you with lawn and gardening issues.
Great food, support for local producers, sustainable agriculture, and a healthy Chesapeake Bay watershed. They’re all good reasons to visit a local farmers market this summer.
Written by Dave Ochs, stewardship communications manager and ResOURces editor