Tuesday was vendor selection day for the Reston Farmers Market. So, Co-Market Masters John and Fran headed over to the Green Spring Gardens offices of the Fairfax County Park Authority to review 50 applications for this year’s market.
The Park Authority sponsors and oversees 11 farmers markets in the county, including the Reston market which begins its 16th year on May 4.
Sixteen years ago, a group of Restonians led by Debbie Shprentz and calling themselves The Friends of TOMATO (The Organic Market at Tall Oaks) approached the Reston Association Board of Directors asking for just a bit of help in starting and operating Reston’s first farmers market. All they asked for
was help in advertising the new market and a volunteer to manage the market.
I was RA Vice President at the time and happened to be the person who raised his hand. It sounded like fun then and has been all these years. It became even more fun when Fran joined me as Co-Market Master several years ago.
The Giant Food Store, then operating at Tall Oaks, had squelched the notion of a farmers market in their parking lot, so Debbie and Co. brought the idea to then-struggling Lake Anne Village Center. Lake Anne was nearly deserted on Saturday
mornings back then. That soon changed when the Reston Farmers Market opened with just 12 vendors. The community immediately embraced the market, not only as fresh food central but as a place to socialize.
Now, 16 years later, we have grown to 29 farmers/vendors and have been recognized by Northern Virginia Magazine as Bo. 1 in the region, most recently in 2012.
But, I digress. The way vendor selection works is that farmers or producers of eligible food or plant products grown or homemade within 125 miles of Green Spring Gardens who are interested in being in a Fairfax market apply to the Park Authority. Park Authority staff review the applications to certify product and geographic eligibility. Then the market masters sit down each year with the County Markets Coordinator to pick the new crop of vendors.
Fifty vendors applied for the 2013 Reston Market, far more than limited space at Lake Anne makes possible. But, the selection task wasn’t really too difficult. 25 of last year’s 28 vendors applied to return and were promptly accepted. The
excitement, and the difficulty, was in selecting just a few more.
Among eligible applicants for the first time, thanks to a change in produce eligibility rules, were two fishermen/seafood vendors! Since we had actually found
these vendors, we were allowed to pick one, a Chesapeake Bay waterman offering freshfish, crabs, oysters and more. We also selected the first certified organic produce and fruit vendor in the market’s history, The Farm at Sunnyside, to fill out the 2013 market.
Write it on your calendars now, Reston Farmers Market opens May 4!