Saturday, January 22, 2011

Farm Market in Winter

I love the Falls Church Farm Market at any time of year. Going there on Saturday mornings is ritual for me, a highlight of my week. In summer there are peaches and corn and heirloom tomatoes, fresh-cut flowers and pea shoots. And in the warm weather there are musicians playing and busking at the market. (On the 4th of July weekend last summer I was playing and busking at the market—my fellow musician and I made nearly $80! It’s much too cold to be playing outside now.) But there’s something special about the hardy souls who sell their goods all year ‘round.

The Falls Church Farm Market is held every Saturday in the parking lot of City Hall. In the winter the number of vendors is less than half of what would be there in the warmer months. But even in winter there are cabbages and mushrooms and apples and a variety of meats and prepared foods.

It was really, really cold this morning, still in the teens by the time I headed home from the market. The vendors were wrapped in layers of clothing but they had to count money with bare hands. My hands lost feeling in the few minutes I was there. I could only imagine what the vendors must feel like by the end of the day. But they were all so happy on this gloomy, frigid day, smiling and making jokes about the cold, saying they come back no matter what the weather because they love seeing their regular customers. The vendors drive hours from Pennsylvania, the northern part of Maryland, and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Dan from Atwater Bakery in Baltimore loads his truck at 4 o’clock in the morning to get to the market.

Today I bought baking apples, perhaps to make a tart, from Black Rock Orchard in Lineboro, Maryland. I bought a fabulous tangy jalapeno cheddar bread from Atwater Bakery and a winter-busting pumpkin soup from the Dragonfly Farms in Mt. Airy, Maryland. And I carefully chose just two truffles—cinnamon dark chocolate and toasted almond dark chocolate—from a homemade chocolate vendor. There were so many things I wanted that I didn’t get this week—lavender soap, and croissants, pickles, homemade ravioli, coffee, and cheese.

There will be another week, and another week after that, no matter what the temperature outside.


  1. I can't believe I live close and didn't know about this. Can you tell me what fresh foods they usually have on hand at the market through the winter and even now? I live gluten and dairy free so breads and cheeses don't work for me. But I always hate the winter around here because my farmer's market in Reston closes. Falls Church is not too far.

  2. Throughout the winter there are still greenhouse-grown lettuce, apples, winter squashes, etc. I've been to the Reston market as well and it's nice in the warm weather. It's worth trying Falls Church to see if there are things you can use in the cold weather months. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Nice to find another winter market in the area! There's also a winter market in Leesburg. They have a good variety of things. Vendor list and more info at the LVHMA website (