by Natalie Miller-Moore
One of the best rituals in Williamsburg is the Farmer’s Market in Merchant’s Square. It’s Saturday morning in the Historic Area, but you can get a buzz from the activities of tourists and shoppers, as well as the ambiance of the market. Besides the kids yelling “Fresh Mozz” and the live music, there are all the stalls.
What’s wonderful about the market is the variety. You can buy fresh flowers. You can buy goat’s milk soap. You can buy strawberries, if you get there early enough. You can buy Bison meat or crabmeat. You can get fresh pasta, soup, pies and more. Want some more reasons to go? Potted Herbs. Gourmet Mushrooms. Local Honey. I’m sure you’ll find something to interest you.
Here’s a few tips: Get there early, because that’s what the savvy shoppers do. The market officially opens at 8 a.m. You will get the best selection and there are always a few select items, like the strawberries, that are sold out by 10 a.m. My favorite flavor of goat soap, Mint, is usually a quick seller as well.
Another feature of the market is that they have two side activities. One is the Chef’s Tent near the Cheese Shop, where they have a local chef doing a demonstration, and they give out free samples! If you are a cook, they also have the recipes on hand so you can take a copy and try it at home.
The other activity is the music, which is not on a stage at all, just a brick courtyard near the Trellis where a live musician plays. It can range from a hammered dulcimer player to a folk singer with a guitar, to a high school jazz group. It’s nice to sit and listen, and the kids love to run around and dance.
A visiting friend said of the Farmer’s Market, “You seem to need a baby or a dog to fit in here.” While those might make it more fun, anyone is welcome. I enjoy watching the breeds of dogs march by and my son enjoys pointing at them or petting them. You’ll see lots of strollers, and for locals, it’s a great place to run into old friends. I like to grab a coffee and cran-orange muffin from the Aroma’s stand and grab a bench to catch up.
But ultimately, the best thing about the Farmer’s Market is that you can support local farmers. By buying local, you’re saving the transportation costs, and you help a farmer continue to farm. Many of the farmers have CSAs, community supported agriculture co-ops where you can buy a share of the season’s produce for a set fee at the beginning of the year. You can also talk to the farmer, a remarkable opportunity these days. They can tell you about the size of their farms, the varieties they grow and why, and how the vegetables, flowers and fruit are grown. It’s a true way to be connected to the community.
So, pencil it in your calendar. Saturday mornings from April to October, starting at 8 a.m. and running until noon
Photographs by local photographer, Thomas Toohey Brown
Natalie Miller-Moore has been a resident of Williamsburg, Virginia for six years and is serving as our monthly guest columnist and local expert. On most days, Natalie can be found spending time with her historian husband and young son, tending to her thriving vegetable garden or enjoying all the thrills found right here in Williamsburg.
You can also enjoy Natalie’s writing in the Daily Press.