ALEXANDRIA,VA- Despite the Del Ray Farmers’ Market’s growth and popularity over the past 25 years—it was recently named one of the top ten farmers’ markets in the state—the market remains a tight-knit community. During the peak season, there are over 20 booths featuring locally grown fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheeses, breads, fresh pasta, baked goods, and cut flowers.
Since it was first formed by neighbors Charles Buki, Karen Johnson, and Dennis Reeder in 1994, the market has become more than just a Saturday errand. It’s a community gathering place where neighbors meet and local nonprofits and/or school groups host bake sales and information tables, reflecting the Del Ray neighborhood’s commitment to giving back. Further, at the end of the market day, many farmers donate excess produce to local nonprofits serving those in need.
“Del Ray is a small ‘big city,’ but has a deep connection to the community, and they are proud of that,” said Mark Toigo of Toigo Orchards, one of three farmers who have been at the market since the start.
Along with neighbors, many of the chefs and business owners at Del Ray’s top restaurants are regulars on Saturday mornings. Holy Cow’s strawberry and peach milkshakes and market BLTs are popular summer items; Catch on the Ave’s brunch menu features the Pat Miller Square Frittata, inspired by the day’s produce haul. Stomping Ground, which prominently features market items throughout its menu, often delivers biscuits and coffee to vendors.
“What is unique about the Del Ray Farmers’ Market is the quality of the food, and how the farmers have become a vital part of the neighborhood,” said Pat Miller, who has served as the volunteer market manager for over 20 years. Recently, the neighborhood square at Mount Vernon & Oxford Avenues where the market is held was named in her honor.
Three farms—Toigo Orchards, Golden Goose Farm, and Biggs Family Farm—have consistently participated in the market for 25 years. “Del Ray Farmers’ Market has the friendliest customers,” said Brenda Goddard of Biggs Family Farm. “My parents started going to this market 25 years ago, and then my husband and I took over the family business and we have been supported by Del Ray from the very start.”
The market celebrated its anniversary by publishing the Del Ray Farmers’ Market Cookbook, featuring recipes from market vendors and volunteers. Copies are just $10, and available from the volunteer market managers during market hours.
Visit the Del Ray Farmers’ Market at the intersection of Mount Vernon and Oxford Avenues every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. year-round. For more information, visit delrayfarmersmarket.com.