Buy fresh. Buy local.
This is the concept around which the farmers market in Virginia Beach is based.
Growing local food. Supporting local communities. Eating healthier, more centrally produced goods. In cities across the United States, farm-to-table community-centered dining has become increasingly popular. Virginia Beach has embraced this idea and not only offers a place for people to buy and sell produce (which tends to be the norm at many farmers markets), but it also offers a true space for the community to come together over good food, entrepreneurial ideas and healthy living.
Many farmers markets have a heavy emphasis on fruits and vegetables, and while you can certainly buy your fair share of tomatoes, potatoes and beans in Virginia Beach, you can also by dairy products, candles, honey, meat and more. Finally, as the movement toward fresh, local food takes hold, farmers markets around the country are becoming more popular, but in Virginia Beach, local farmers and artisans have been selling their goods from this very same, permanent location since 1976. Let’s just say that the commitment to support local growers and provide community members with fresh and local food is not a new one here.
Though the variety and abundance of goods available increases on the weekends when farmers set up tables to sell their goods, the permanent shops alone are worth stopping by any day of the week—and for locals, they offer a great alternative to big box grocery shopping.
At Gilly’s Creamery, several flavors of ice cream are created by the ingenious minds working the counter. The standards—vanilla, chocolate and strawberry—are always available, but specialty flavors really make the mouth water. Coconut and birthday cake are two particularly exceptional flavors. The Country Butcher Shop offers several different cuts of meat, and Seasons Best Candy & Bakery has shelves upon shelves of colorful treats and freshly made baked goods. It is particularly known for its tomato tarts and monkey bread. The Organic Grocery has a wide selection of natural and organic foods, household and body products, primarily from local sources.
The farmers market of Virginia Beach has several success stories of people who have wanted to start their own businesses and have used this as a place to launch their dreams into reality. And though it is already far more advanced than most farmers markets around the United States, the fact that Virginia Beach has a rural community outreach specialist who specifically works to advance the reach and offerings of the market is a sure indicator that this is a priority in the community. Though it’s been around for several years, there is room for Virginia Beach’s farmers market to grow, and I look forward to returning in the coming years to see how it has evolved to embrace the needs of local residents and visitors alike.
My visit to the Virgina Beach farmers market was made possible by the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, but all opinions are my own.