Posts Tagged ‘farmers market’

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Outdoor Farmers Market at the U.S. Department of Agriculture

A farmers market is a physical retail market featuring foods sold directly by farmers and others to consumers. Farmers’ markets are most frequently outdoors and typically consist of booths, tables or stands, where farmers sell fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and sometimes prepared foods and beverages.

For such a heavily urbanized area with no actual working farms within the city limits, D.C. boasts a large number of diverse farmers markets. Both large and small markets, they offer a selection of fresh produce and numerous other products. Most are outdoors and open seasonally, like one of my favorites, the Vermont Avenue Farmers Market.  Other larger ones, like Eastern Market, are indoors and open year round.  And some are less traditional and might not even be initially thought of by most as a farmers market, like The Maine Avenue Fish Market.  On this lunchtime bike ride to end the week, I went by the outdoor farmers market at the headquarters for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is located in a parking lot outside the U.S.D.A. Headquarters on the corner of Independence Avenue and 12th Street (MAP), across the street from the Smithsonian Metro stop in southwest D.C.

Celebrating its 20th summer, the U.S.D.A. Farmers Market opened for the 2015 season on May 1st, and will operate from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every Friday until the day before Halloween. Managed by the U.S.D.A.’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the U.S.D.A.’s Farmers Market is considered by the Department as a “living laboratory” for farmers market operations across the country. As a model for others, the market supports the local economy, increases marketing opportunities for farmers and small businesses, provides access to an assortment of local and regionally sourced products, and increases access to healthy, affordable food in D.C.

So regardless of whether you get there by bike, or some other way, I recommend checking out either the U.S.D.A. Farmer’s Market, or any other farmer’s market near you.  If you try some of the many free samples while you’re there, you’ll most likely buy more to take home with you like I did.

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Vermont Avenue Farmers Market

Vermont Avenue Farmers Market

For my last springtime bike ride before summer officially begins this weekend, I leisurely rode around the downtown area for a while before going to a farmers market named Farmfresh Markets by The White House, located on Vermont Avenue between H and I Streets in northwest D.C. (MAP), just across from the northeast corner of Lafayette Park.  Every Thursday from April through October, the street is closed to traffic while it temporarily becomes an open-air market and street fair.  Although only a block long, a number of booths and vendors set up with a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other products like breads and baked goods, kettle corn, artisan cheeses, milk and yogurt, fresh-cut flowers, and jellies and jams. There were also some places serving lunch, and even a street musician providing background music.

But on this occasion it was one particular booth run by a Mennonite family that caught my attention. It was operated by Kinley and Rebecca Coulter and their family, from Coulter Farms of Honey Grove, Pennsylvania. They were selling a variety of products, including organic meat, free range eggs, raw milk cheeses, and a variety of flavors of raw honey.  What initially caught my eye was a display for their honey that included a large hive and a swarm of hundreds of live bees, which they had set up on a table in the front of their booth. It was all behind glass, so it was safe enough to get up close, and it was very interesting to stop and watch for a while.

The Coulters also had a large grill set up and were serving lunch, which consisted entirely of products from their farm. I had a certified organic 100% grass-fed beef sausage with fresh grilled peppers and onions on a homemade roll, and a big glass of iced tea flavored with raw honey and fresh-picked mint.  I then took my lunch across the street to eat it in Lafayette Park. I ate on a bench near a fountain in the park, and listened to the street musician as I watched an ongoing protest in front of the northern portico of the White House.

There are a number of farmers markets in the D.C. area during the warmer months, including one sponsored by the Department of Agriculture every Friday.  While I have visited a number of them, the one on Vermont Avenue remains my favorite.  And this ride and stopping by the market was a relaxing and enjoyable way to say goodbye to spring.  And it left me looking forward to many more rides during the coming summer.

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