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A pumpkin stall at the Herndon farmers market (courtesy Town of Herndon)

A shake-up might be in the works for the Town of Herndon’s annual farmers market.

The town is exploring the possibility of moving the seasonal event from its usual Thursday morning time slot to Saturday or Sunday, though it’s not clear yet whether the Fairfax County Park Authority — which currently organizes the market — could accommodate the change.

“As a matter of course, the town is always evaluating programs and events, no matter how successful, to see if we might improve upon them and make them and more inclusive,” town spokesperson Anne Curtis told FFXnow.

Launched on May 4, the Herndon farmers market takes place on Lynn Street every Thursday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through Nov. 9. It has 15 vendors, along with master gardeners, and typically draws 500 to 700 attendees per week, “depending on the season and the weather,” according to Curtis.

However, the town council and staff are now considering whether the market could draw even more of a crowd on the weekend. The proposal was partly inspired by a recent survey of the business community that found a desire for more special events that could attract customers.

“The business community has told us weekends, second Saturdays, it’s a larger pool of potential revenue for the town,” Councilmember Cesar del Aguila said at an Oct. 17 work session. “In my humble opinion, we’ve reached the point on a lot of our events of diminishing returns. Doesn’t matter what we do, doesn’t matter how much we put into it, it’s not going to grow…But a second Saturday, a more focused event or series of events, mini festivals, that’s why we’re considering this.”

At an earlier work session on Oct. 3, Town Manager Bill Ashton told the council that the FCPA seemed open to moving its Herndon market to Saturdays, but the agency won’t know for sure until its list of vendors is finalized in February.

According to Ashton, the park authority has scheduled the Herndon market for Thursdays to avoid conflicts with the Reston Farmers Market held on Saturdays at Lake Anne Village Center.

An FCPA spokesperson confirmed that the agency has been working with the Town of Herndon to determine “what may be possible.”

“The Fairfax County Park Authority is definitely committed to the continued success of all 10 of our Farmers Market locations,” the park authority said in a statement. “We welcome ideas and recommendations that can help further that endeavor. Of course, any changes to the program calendar for next year need to be well-planned with the market volunteers, vendors and service providers.”

The town could partner with a different organizer, such as the nonprofit FreshFarm, which operates year-round farmers markets in the Mosaic District, Oakton and at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Reston.

“It makes a better option, but they cannot commit to the weekends until they figure out who’s returning on their current market list,” Ashton said.

Not everyone is sold on the proposed shift.

During last week’s discussion, which focused on whether the Thursday farmers’ market should be left off of the town’s official calendar, Mayor Sheila Olem noted that “several” vendors are busy at the Lake Anne market on Saturdays. She also pointed to some advantages of working with Fairfax County, including the composting services now offered at all 10 of its markets.

Vice Mayor Clark Hedrick said the town has “seen a lot of comments” from people concerned about the farmers’ market getting taken off the calendar without any opportunity for public input.

The council ultimately agreed to leave the market on Thursdays for the 2024 calendar, but there will be an asterisk indicating that the date is “subject to change.” A resolution that will also solidify the holidays listed on the calendar is set to be approved by the council when it meets tonight (Wednesday).

The annual fall festival returns to Mosaic District this month (courtesy EDENS)

A two-day outdoor fall festival returns to the Mosaic District on Sept. 23 and 24.

The annual Fall Festival will bring activities and entertainment to the mixed-use neighborhood in Merrifield from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

URBNmarket — a curated marketplace — will include a mix of 80 handmade, artists and vintage good vendors to the festival. FRESHFARM — the D.C.-based nonprofit that runs the Mosaic District’s weekly farmers marketwill also feature local vendors with produce and snacks.

Activities for kids will include a moon bounce, pumpkin painting and a games corner. A glamour tent by the Vienna Signing Princesses will also offer face painting and hair braiding.

Performances are planned throughout both days on the main stage on Strawberry Lane:

Saturday, September 23

  • 11 a.m. — Vienna Singing Princesses
  • 11:15 a.m. — Tea with Mrs. B
  • 12:30 p.m. — School of Rock – House Band
  • 2 p.m. — Patrick Alban and Noche Latino
  • 4 p.m. — Izis La Enfermera de La Salsa

Sunday, September 24

  • 11 a.m. — Vienna Singing Princesses
  • 11:15 a.m. — Tiny Dancers
  • 12:30 p.m. —  The Cassaday Concoction
  • 4 p.m. — Royals USA

There will also be fall-themed selfie stations, along with a sip-and-stroll at participating locations.

The event is free, and complimentary shuttle service will be available from the Dunn Loring Metro station.

People wait for plant-based food and empanadas at FreshFarm’s Mosaic District farmers market (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The Tysons area will have no shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables for the rest of this year, as one farmers market prepares to make its introduction and another expands its presence.

A brand-new Tysons farmers market will launch at noon today (Thursday) at The PARC at Tysons (8508 Leesburg Pike).

Run by Potomac Farm Market, the market will return every Thursday from noon to 7 p.m. through Oct. 19. It will have “seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresh cut flowers, and other locally sourced specialties” from area farmers and food producers, according to Celebrate Fairfax, the nonprofit that operates The PARC.

“We’re thrilled to work in partnership with Potomac Farm Market and host the farmers market at The PARC,” Celebratate Fairfax President and CEO Ashley Morris said. “The market provides an opportunity to bring neighbors together to connect over fresh, locally sourced food while also supporting local farms.”

To mark today’s launch, Celebrate Fairfax has planned a grand opening event with free ice cream from Tysons Creamery, while supplies last. The giveaway is a nod to National Ice Cream Month, but it will also likely be welcome for patrons on a day expected to get dangerously hot.

The farmers market is currently scheduled to be held outside, but organizers say it could be relocated indoors if necessary.

“We are monitoring the weather and have the ability to move the farm market inside The PARC if needed,” Celebrate Fairfax Director of Community Events and Engagements Trinity Yansick said.

Mosaic District farmers’ market set to expand

Looking south of I-66, nonprofit FreshFarm announced yesterday that it will expand its popular farmers market at Merrifield’s Mosaic District.

Operated by FreshFarm since 2019, the Mosaic market is open year-round on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It typically occupies more than two blocks along District Avenue from Strawberry Lane to Penny Lane, requiring the road to be closed to vehicle traffic.

Starting on Aug. 6, the market will extend its reach onto Strawberry Lane, increasing its vendor line-up from 45 produce, food and craft stalls to almost 60.

Covering the equivalent of three city blocks, the expanded market will be “in the running to be the largest farmers market in Northern Virginia,” FreshFarm says. Offerings will include “a wide array of fresh fruits and vegetables, artisanal baked goods, pastured eggs and meats, locally roasted coffee, prepared foods” and more.

“The expansion into Strawberry Lane means we can connect even more farmers and producers with the community while also providing local residents with a wider variety of fresh and healthy options,” FreshFarm Director of Agricultural Programs Rebecca Chávez said.

She added that the nonprofit hopes the bigger market will draw more participants for its Fresh Match program, which allows SNAP and other federal benefit recipients to get a dollar-for-dollar match on any benefits they spend at the farmers market.

“[It] both helps shoppers take home more nutritious produce and local foods while creating and sustaining new revenue streams for local growers,” Chávez said.

The Mosaic market’s expansion will coincide with the first day of National Farmers Market Week, which is recognized annually by the national nonprofit Farmers Market Coalition.

Earlier this year, workers for FreshFarm — whose other markets include ones in Reston and Oakton — unionized with United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400.

Farmers markets are also underway from the Fairfax County Park Authority, which runs 10 markets that appear from the spring into the fall, or even December in some cases.

The Reston Farmers Market returned with its highest number of vendors this year (courtesy John Lovaas)

(Updated at 1 p.m. on 5/15/2023) Reston Farmers’ Market — a staple of Lake Anne Village Center — has officially landed in Reston.

The farmers market, which launched in late April, boasts the highest-ever number of vendors this year, according to John Lovaas, founder and co-market manager.

“We have 34 vendors (up 5 from last year),” Lovaas wrote in a statement. “In addition we have a Compost collection contractor, and stands for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) managed by Cornerstones, and Fairfax Master Gardeners who provide a wide range of advice to home gardeners.”

Sponsored by the Fairfax County Park Authority, the market also allows SNAP beneficiaries to receive an up to $20 match.

Even as it boasts a record number of vendors, the market faces some parking restraints this year.

Lovaas said parking is a constraint “made more difficult” by the new Lake Anne House, which provides what he said was “inadequate parking for its 240 apartments.”

Additionally, construction work on new townhouses next to the senior housing community has complicated some efforts.

“Thankfully, there is abundant parking available just the other side of Baron Cameron Avenue from the Market and in the parking lot behind the Lake Anne Baptist Church on the Plaza,” Lovaas said.

The church, which is officially called the Washington Plaza Baptist Church, is located at 1615 Washington Plaza North.

Musicians also perform on a weekly basis at the farmers market, which is held every Saturday to December from 8 a.m. to noon.

This year’s new vendors are:

  • Bites by Sam-sweet & savory pies
  • Cocoi-Philippine donuts, sweets
  • Coulter Dairy Farms-certified Organic
  • Pho From Home-Frozen Vietnamese Soups
  • Poppi’s Hot Sauces

Here’s more from Reston Association on the parking changes:

Construction of new townhomes on North Shore Drive across from the Reston Farmers Market will begin shortly, making parking even more challenging. However, nearby there are two sizeable parking lots that provide alternative parking options for market attendees.

One is up behind Lake Anne Baptist Church on the Plaza. To access this lot, take the first left turn off North Shore Drive after you go through the traffic light at the entrance into the new Lake Anne House assisted living building coming from the Farmers Market. After the left turn, go straight ahead up the hill into the parking area.

On the opposite side of Baron Cameron Avenue from Lake Anne Village Center & the Farmers Market, there is parking straight ahead by the RA tennis courts, and off to the right by the Browns Chapel and the baseball field. There is a crosswalk with a signal light on Baron Cameron for a safe walk back to Lake Anne.

A display of peppers at a local farmers market (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Several county-run farmers markets are returning for the spring season this month with the remainder opening soon after.

The Fairfax County Park Authority operates 10 farmers markets across the county where residents can pick up fresh veggies, fruit, meat, and other locally produced goodies.

“Our markets are strictly producer-only, meaning that all of our farmers and producers may only sell what they raise on their farms or make from scratch,” reads the county’s website.

Three farmers markets are coming back later in April.

The seven remaining farmers markets will open in May.

  • May 3: Oak Marr on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to noon, Wakefield on Wednesdays from 2-6 p.m.
  • May 4: Annandale on Thursdays from 8 a.m. to noon, Herndon on Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • May 5: McLean on Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon, Kingstowne on Fridays from 3-7 p.m.
  • May 7: Lorton on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Each market’s webpage has a list of vendors that are set to be selling. Besides food for sale, many markets will also offer family-friendly activities, live music, and civic-engagement opportunities.

Besides the county-run farmers markets, the nonprofit FreshFarm also has a number of local markets, including three that operate year-round.

  • Oakton on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Mosaic District on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Reston on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Two other FreshFarm markets — Springfield and Mosaic on Thursdays — were open last year, but it is not immediately clear if those will be open starting next month. FreshFarm is the area’s largest farmers market operator, and in February, its employees voted to unionize.

At the Mosaic District FRESHFARM Farmers’ Market (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Workers at the regional nonprofit FRESHFARM, which operates three farmers markets in Fairfax County, voted to unionize with United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 earlier this week.

FRESHFARM worker Ariana MacMartin told FFXnow that the hope is a union can help workers at the farmers markets negotiate for better pay and more job security, as well as hopefully reduce turnover.

“We’ve asked for higher pay and better benefits, but we realized we couldn’t affect change without a union,” MacMartin said.

MacMartin said the specific demands are still in negotiation.

The unionization effort includes about 25 workers who staff and operate FRESHFARM’s 28 markets in the D.C. area, including sites at the Mosaic District, Reston and Oakton, according to UFCW Local 400.

Employees filed for a union election in December. Ballots were distributed on Jan. 18, and National Labor Relations Board officials counted votes on Feb. 8.

While other workers have had to fight tooth and nail for unionization, MacMartin said FRESHFARM has been an extremely agreeable partner in the process.

In a statement, FRESHFARM said:

FRESHFARM is pleased to announce that our farmers market staff have voted to unionize. The organization strives to create the best farmers markets in the region, and having a professional, well-trained workforce is front and center of these efforts. FRESHFARM management is enthusiastic about working with a collective bargaining unit committed to our mission and shared values of improving our workers’ conditions to ensure we continue to best serve our region.

MacMartin said her hope is that the negotiations and improvements can help inspire other farmers market workers.

“I want to unionize every farmers market,” MacMartin said. “My hope is our message spreads to strengthen the working class and we can have our needs met.”

The marketplace concept is inspired by farmers markets (Photo via Anne Preble/Unsplash).

Despite a hiccup in the planning process, the popular Reston Farmers Market will remain at the Lake Anne Plaza next year.

Last week, the Fairfax County Park Authority signed a new use agreement with the Lake Anne Reston Condominium Association (LARCA) to continue the market at its longstanding location in 2023.

“We signed a license agreement last week with the Fairfax County Park Authority and we look forward to hosting the County-run Farmer’s Market in 2023,” LARCA President George Hadjikyriakou wrote in a statement.

Contract negotiations were hung up by an issue revolving around insurance, according to Ben Boxer, a spokesperson for the county.

“Farmers Markets have received significant community support at all ten locations throughout the county and we are appreciative of the ongoing partnerships with our vendors and hosts that make this program such a remarkable success,” Boxer said.

Both parties and the county did not comment further on the nature of the issues. Boxer noted that the context of the discussion was related to “contract negotiation,” and Hadjikyriakou deferred additional comment to the county.

Earlier this year, a free summer concert series relocated to Reston Station after the Reston Community Center failed to reach an agreement with LARCA.

The  market takes place at 1608 Washington Plaza North.

Farmers market (via Fairfax County)

While the onset of winter usually heralds the end of farmers markets, Fairfax County announced last week that three markets around the county will brave the chill to continue into December.

“The Fairfax County Farmers Markets have extended the season at three popular market locations,” the Fairfax County Park Authority said in a release. “The Reston Farmers Market will remain open until Dec. 3, 2022; the Burke Farmers Market is open until Dec. 17, 2022; and the McCutcheon/Mt. Vernon Farmers Market will be open until Dec. 21, 2022.”

Along with the extended season, some of the markets will be getting a handful of new vendors and new wintery items typically not available in the other seasons.

“Our farmers and producers will continue to bring an abundance of winter squash, greens, apples, potatoes, fresh-baked breads, locally raised meats, and unique prepared foods,” the release said. “Extended season vendors will bring new products, such as macaroons, bagels, kombucha, Moroccan sauces and more. Be sure to visit Burke, Reston and McCutcheon/Mt. Vernon to support your favorite vendors through the season, and to welcome our new vendors.”

The farmers markets with extended hours are:

  • Burke (5671 Roberts Parkway): April 16-Dec. 17, from 8 a.m. to noon
  • Reston (1609-A Washington Plaza): April 30-Dec. 3, from 8 a.m. to noon
  • McCutcheon/Mount Vernon (2501 Sherwood Hall Lane): April 20-Dec. 21, from 8 a.m. to noon

Customers and vendors had requested a continuation into December for the Mount Vernon market — typically the last one to close just before Thanksgiving, according to Park Authority spokesperson Judith Pedersen.

The Burke and Reston markets were also chosen for extensions, because they’re held on Saturdays, are the park authority’s largest, and “have vendors with enough products and product mix to sustain a vibrant market,” Pedersen told FFXnow.

“Unfortunately, the weather is too unpredictable to extend through the winter,” she said. “However, all vendors from the other markets are invited to participate in the extended season at these markets if they have product to sell.”

The annual festival returns this year with ticketed time slots (courtesy Reston Farm Garden Market)

A fall staple is returning to the Reston Farm Garden Market later this month.

Owners Lowell and Bonita Weinstein announced today (Tuesday) that the annual fall festival will return on Sept. 24 through Oct. 30, bringing activities like a petting zoo, a train, moon bounces, and seasonal produce to the farm.

“We love the annual tradition of the Fall Festival and inviting families to experience joy and take home pumpkins, plants or favorite Apple Cider Donuts,” Weinstein said. “We continue to offer a safe and clean experience for all of our guests.”

Local food trucks will be part of the event for the weekend, along with seasonal products like pansies, natural jams, organic honey, pumpkins, seasonal decor, apple cider and apple cider tonights.

While the festival was not on pause last year due to the pandemic, this year does feature different time slots, says Diane Murphy, a spokesperson for the garden.

The festival will be open Friday through Sunday with five 90-minute online ticketed sessions, starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 6:30 p.m. Admission costs $28 per child and $7 per parent, although children 2 and under can get in for free.

Other activities that are not included in the ticket include face painting, balloons, animal feedings, doughnuts and apple cider.

Staff will clean bounce houses and surrounding areas during the 30 minutes between sessions. Tickets are available online for purchase.

The farm is located at 10800 Baron Cameron Avenue in Reston.


Morning Notes

Construction cranes with Ukraine flag at Reston Station (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fairfax Resident Faces Prison for Unruly Airplane Behavior — “Last week, Kameron C. Stone, 30, of Fairfax, Virginia, was sentenced to one year in federal prison for interfering with flight crew and assault by striking and wounding in special aircraft jurisdiction after pleading guilty on February 8, 2022.” [Department of Justice]

Vienna Crash Leads to Power Outage and Evacuations — “According to a Town of Vienna alert, a traffic crash resulted in live, downed wires in the area of Cottage and Elm Streets. Homes on Elm Street from Cottage to Plum Streets and Cottage Street from Cherry to Battle Streets were evacuated due to the potential for fire, according to the town.” [Patch]

West Falls Project to Break Ground — “Developers are expected to break ground this month on the first of three mixed-use projects near the West Falls Church Metro station with a total investment of about $1.2 billion…Falls Church’s George Mason High School was demolished and replaced by the nearby Meridian High School to make way for the first development, which is scheduled to break ground in mid-May.” [Virginia Business]

Fairfax County Among Healthiest in Virginia — “According to the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute 2022 County Health Rankings report, Fairfax County is ranked the fourth healthiest county out of 133 in the commonwealth. Falls Church City ranks as the healthiest locality, while Fairfax City ranks as 13th in healthiest outcomes.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

Unemployment Numbers Decline — “Fairfax County’s jobless rate ticked down slightly from February to March, among ongoing if incremental improvement from pandemic highs of 2020…the unemployment rate of 2.3 percent was down from 2.5 percent in February and well below the rate of 4.1 percent recorded a year ago.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Reston Farmers Market Reaches 25 Years — “One of the people on hand for the opening of the 2022 season was Del. Ken Plum (D-42nd), who has represented Reston in the Virginia House of Delegates for 42 years. Plum and Reston founder Robert E. Simon were on hand 25 years ago for the opening of the first farmers market at Lake Anne Village.” [Patch]

Fairfax County Libraries Celebrate Star Wars Day — Tomorrow (Wednesday) is May 4, and Fairfax County Public Library will let kids and kids at heart indulge their love for the still-ubiquitous space opera with a variety of activities, from origami Yoda at Tysons-Pimmit to an R2D2 photo op in Sherwood. Most events are open to all, though two that require registration have filled up. [FCPL]

It’s Tuesday — Rain overnight. High of 74 and low of 56. Sunrise at 6:10 am and sunset at 8:04 pm. []


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