As appreciation for locally produced food increases, farmers markets continue to grow, and this year promises to be no different. Many of the Richmond region's markets are poised to undergo significant changes. Managers at most of the markets say they expect 2011 to be their biggest year yet, with more vendors and expanded spaces.
It will be the first year for the Chesterfield Farmers Market, which opens for the season April 1 at the Huguenot Road entrance to Chesterfield Towne Center. Market owner Judi Williams says that in addition to food and craft vendors, she plans to offer health tips from nutritionists and wellness professionals, as well as a book swap. "I think it's going to be the market in the area," she says.
Among other developments, the 2-year-old Brandermill Green Market is relocating to a larger and more visible site at Market Square Shopping Center (Hull Street and Old Hundred roads in Midlothian). Also planning a change of venue is the former North of the James Market in Bryan Park, which is crossing the river in hopes of serving a larger customer base on the South Side (4910 Forest Hill Ave.).
Markets are expanding in other ways as well. The 17th Street Farmers' Market downtown is enlisting partners to offer nutrition advice and exercise classes, and teens in the Mayor's Youth Academy will sell vegetables that they harvest from nearby gardens.
Yet perhaps the most talked-about change this year is in Goochland County, where the Center for Rural Culture has operated the popular Goochland Farmers Market for five years. After a dispute with the CRC leadership, former executive director Lisa Dearden left the organization and is setting up a new market, called My Goochland Market, at 68 Broad Street Road near Short Pump. Although CRC officials initially said they planned to continue running their market at Grace Episcopal Church, they have since decided against it. The board of directors released a statement in March, saying it believes the county can't support two markets and that "diluting the customer base is unfair to our vendors." Competition from other farmers markets and rising gas prices were also factors in the decision, the board said. (For background on the situation, visit richmondmaga zine.com/goochlandmarket).