Farmer markets are now open throughout the Commonwealth, and one in Christiansburg starts the 2017 season on Thursday.
The markets are typically open through October and offer a variety of homegrown products to satisfy the need for fresh fruit and vegetables. The Christiansburg one is no exception.
More than 3,500 farms in Virginia sell directly to consumers, and the Commonwealth is ranked Ninth in the country in direct farm-to-consumer sales.
Virginia Department of Agriculture (VDA) Commissioner Sandy Adams points out this is a way to support the local economy.
“In fact, research by the Virginia Cooperative Extension has shown that if each household spent $10 a week on local products, an additional $1.65 billion would be invested back into the Commonwealth’s local economy each year,” she said.
Information from the VDA also shows that in most cases farmers’ markets often carry products you wouldn’t find in a supermarket.
Christiansburg’s market day was set as Thursday because of other ones in the area being open on Friday and Saturday. This is the third year for the town’s designated market that is located on Hickok Street.
Sara Belcher, who serves as the market’s manager, said this year will bring many returning vendors, as well as new vendors.
“We’ve got a good variety of products this season. We’re also trying to make the last Market of every month larger than the other weeks. We’ll be inviting food vendors and live music. We’re picturing it as a mini festival where you can come down, eat dinner while you listen to music and shop the market,” she said.
The first two years have been a learning experience for Belcher and the town.
“You have to think outside of the box to figure out what people are interested in and what they’re hoping to find at the market. Our main goal is to draw people to the market so it’s successful for our vendors. That’s sometimes harder than you think. People are really excited about this upcoming season, so we have to work hard to keep that excitement,” he said.
Opening day will have seven vendors and live music starting around 5 p.m.
Belcher said she and the farmer’s market committee has been working hard on additional activities.
The last week of every month will be a larger market day. In June, they’re we’re bringing back the “Dog Days of Summer Dog Show.”
“We’re also working with the Health Department and Christiansburg Police Department to plan at least one children’s bike rodeo. We’ll host the dog adoption day, as well as fall picture day again. Our biggest event of the year is Christmas at the Market that will be held in December,” Belcher concluded.
The town still has plans on the table for a permanent structure and possible performance stage along Hickok Street. No timetable has been set for those future plans.