Farmer's markets and fresh produce stands are by far my favorite places to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, along with the occasional jar of locally harvested honey or freshly baked bread. On the Peninsula, Dean and Don's offers a great selection of fresh seasonal produce at competitive prices, and doesn't it just feel like you're getting fresher fruits and veggies when you buy it from a Farmer's Market?
Most recently, while traveling back to Hampton Roads from a Virginia Wine Country tour, I stopped at Cheryl's Produce in Glen Allen, just off of Highway 33. It was there that I picked up what turned out to be the best Hanover tomatoes, seedless watermelon and cantaloupe I have tasted this season.
As the days inch closer to October and November, however, a sense of panic begins to rise. Where shall I find fresh, affordable produce when farm stands close for the season?
The answer: at year-round Farmer's Markets OR the local grocer (provided I purchase only produce that is in season.)
Woods Orchards Farm Market in Hampton has typical summer offerings during the summer and a variety of greens during the winter. Woods Orchards is open year round Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Closed Sunday.
Virginia Beach Farmer's Market is located on Dam Neck Road and is open year-round with fresh produce, although some offerings may not be local. They are open Mon - Fri: 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sat: 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m., and Sun: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Fresh produce can also be found at the Old Beach Farmer's Market near the oceanfront in Virginia Beach, which is open every third Saturday, September to May, 9:00 AM to 12:00 Noon, and then every Saturday, 8:00 AM to 12:00 Noon Memorial Day to Labor Day.
According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture produce guide, Asian pears, beets, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, and potatoes are harvested through November. Provided the weather conditions remain favorable, these items will be fresh at your local grocer, and should be more friendly to your grocery budget than if you were to buy imported spring or summer produce this fall. Apples, greens (such as spinach for a limited time), and sweet potatoes will carry us closer to next summer's farm stands.
While there's still time, take advantage of your local farm stands, and some of the local farmer's market events:
City Center at Oyster Point: Farmer's Market, Thursdays in September, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Suffolk Farmer's Market is open two days per week from April into November, Wednesdays, 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Peninsula Town Center Farmer's Market is open through October on Sundays only, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
If you're traveling through the state, check out virginia.org's list of Farmer's Markets throughout the state, and don't miss out on fresh produce wherever you can find it!