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Best DC-Area Farmers' Markets

I am a junkie for the Arlington Farmer's Market, but wonder what other markets are good in the DC area.

In addition to weekend markets, are there markets that run on weekday evenings?

I live in Del Ray (Alexandria) -- though I'm happy to travel a bit if the gettin's are good.

Thanks for sharing thoughts.

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  1. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/fa...

    http://www.freshfarmmarkets.org/marke...

    I live in Alexandria and go to Del Ray, Courthouse, and Dupont. Of those, my favorite is Dupont for the variety. I am curious to try Kingstowne on Fridays. It's from 4-7. Anyone been?

    3 Replies
    1. re: monavano

      I go to the Fresh Farm market in Penn Quarter just about weekly (Thursdays, 3-7 or 8 pm). The breads are amazing, as are the frozen meats (bison, veal) and fresh cheeses. Lots of veggies and apples (haven't ever seen berries, and am always looking for them!).
      The saddest time of year for me comes in the fall when the market closes for the last time until the spring...

      1. re: monavano

        Kingstowne's is small. It had the basics but didn't make me want to go back when Burke is closer to me and has more variety. But, reading about other ones, I'm thinking it doesn't compare to some of the bigger ones.

        1. re: chowser

          Thanks so much for the reply :)

      2. For the first time this morning, I went to the Annandale market (in a park right off Columbia Pike to the east of the Annandale commercial area). Smaller than the Courthouse market, it still had some pretty interesting vendors. There is someone selling kettle popcorn that is slightly sweet and salty too--my favorite combination of flavors. Half the bag was gone by the time I got home, and the rest is almost gone. I CAN NOT GO THERE EVER AGAIN.

        Since it starts later and is in an attractive urban location, The Dupont Circle market (to me) appears to be more of a social event. They do have some excellent vendors. However, I find it too crowded with people strolling with their lattes and chatting, dogs, kids, etc. for serious food shopping.

        3 Replies
        1. re: bacchante

          Don't let that keep anyone from this wonderful market. I am among the coffee and breakfast set, often stopping at Starbucks across the St. and grabbing something delightful from Bonaparte Bakery.I see the crowds as a sign that Dupont has excellent vendors, and for those not in the know; dogs are not allowed in the market since last year. The farmers and artisans are amazing, so no one should be hesitant to go there. Great relationships can be made with them, whether your from the neighborhood, or VA, like me.
          Make no doubt, it is very crowded during the high season, but it's for a good reason. And the sociability: even better.

          1. re: monavano

            Where in DuPont? You mentioned Starbucks? The one at Conn & R?
            Thanks -- I'm definately going to check it out.

            1. re: bigskymind

              here's the link. there's also one by Pizza Paradiso 2 blocks away. Depending where we park, we hit one of them.
              http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-...
              me+coffe+market goodies= very good

        2. Unless you are Birkenstock intolerant, the Takoma Park farmer's market is really good. (Sunday only.) Great produce in season . . . exceptional peaches, apples, tomatoes. They even let a meat guy set up a booth. (How's that for tolerance?) Also good herbs, honey, breads. Fun place for kids too. A banjo player plucks in the background. Sure, some animal rights guy walks around with a stuffed ``impaled'' fox, but such is life in a nuclear-free zone.

          3 Replies
          1. re: dan f.

            Where is this one? Is it cheaper than the dupont one? I find the Dupont one to have some good stuff but so $$$

            1. re: Jacey

              TP Farmer's Market is on Carroll Ave. in the heart of Takoma Park. It's up the hill from the Metro Red Line Takoma stop, a short walk. I see they have a web site, www.takomaparkmarket.com. Haven't been to Dupont market but my guess is it's more of a bargain. They're likely to give you a discount on larger purchases, too. For instance, I get tomato ``seconds'' in late summer for making spaghetti sauce. Forgot what I paid but it isn't much.

              1. re: dan f.

                Living here, I second the TP farmer's market. I do wish Blue Ridge was here too, but it's very hard getting a spot in the market.

          2. And to add: "chef at the market" at Dupont is very fun. They have area top chefs and lots of fun. Book signings, food making, and let's not forget the 6 or so foot paella pan fun from Jaleo a month or so back. They usually get going around 11, which at that time the market is crowded and you may be missing the "best of the best" offerings. but all the same, it's a great time to catch the demonstration.

            1. I highly recommend the market at RFK stadium. It surely isn't the fanciest market. Not all of the food is grown by the vendors and there isn't much in the way of prepared food save for some church ladies selling cake slices. What it does have is one of the best farmers in the region. Check out the Mexican family that farms in Virginia. I'm terrible at names, but he's a very nice guy and very adventurous. What he does well is grow great vegetables. He grows awesome tomatoes, tomatillos, poke salad, a variety of eggplants, purslane, potatoes, garlic, onions, squash, chilis, basil, some odd Mexican green that I had never seen before and didn't get the name of but is used like Cilantro - but in smaller doses. There are other vendors there that appear from time to time. You can get fresh, shelled lima beans and other types of beans in season. Oh, and the prices are very cheap. There is even a fish vendor, though I have never bought from them. There used to be a truck that roasted peanuts, but they have long since stopped going there. In the height of the summer, you can get barbecue. I'm usually there at 8:00 and they are just setting up.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ChewFun

                RFK farmers' market is terrific. Almost all is grown by the local farmers but they can add things like lemons, oranges, etc. to make it one-stop shopping. The fish vendors sell live crabs during the summer and sometimes have head-on shrimp from the Carolinas. You have to gut and clean the fish yourself but it's as fresh as any you'll find in town. Some filets.
                Great place to buy bushel quantities of produce for canning at great prices. Flats of strawberries for jam. End of day bargains.
                This is a real down-home market but sometimes there are some chi-chi things. Tiny new potatoes the size of marbles. Unusual greens picked the night before. Fresh beans of unusual sorts. Different varieties of eggplants. Fabulous slab bacon. The Hispanic farmer has a fabulous selection of chilis in late summer.
                As ChewFun says, the prices here are cheap! Better than any in town. They take food stamps and WIC and draw an increasingly ethnic crowd which their products have started to reflect. Lots of reasons to explore this market. Easy parking. Usually set up in the parking lots north of RFK stadium toward Benning Road Thursdays and Saturdays.

              2. If you want a good farmer's market go to Baltimore. The market under the fallsway is, IMO, the best market in the area. Mind you, it's not the pristine, faux-markety vibe of Dupont circle. It's way more real-- crabs, huge piles of produce, pit beef sandwiches, steel drum band, prices you can actually feel good about paying (most of the time)... Plus lots of amazing prepared food (top on my list being salmon from the Neopol Smokery).

                1. Has anyone been to the one in Silver Spring ?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chevychasemdguy

                    If you mean the one on Ellsworth, near the restaurants, Whole Foods, Majestic theaters etc., it's OK but the one in Takoma Park is much better. Silver Spring doesn't half as many booths (and hence the selection) as TP.

                  2. Has anyone seen the ads for the new farmers markets at Whole Foods in Fairlakes (Sundays 9-1, I think)? I'm impressed that Whole Foods would support a local farmers market in its parking lot since it is in direct competition with what they're selling. It also sounds like they've got a good array of vendors, like the Blue Ridge Dairy, that others here have recommended. I do want to get to other markets recommended here but this one is really convenient for those of us in suburban NoVA.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: MakingSense

                      The problem with living in the VA suburbs is shopping near "home" means Shoppers, Safeway, TJ or Whole Foods type places. I visit my friend in Takoma Park and am envious of the types of stores she has within walking distance. While I'm not a big fan of WF, at least our local one carries and clearly identifies the locally grown produce (though produce grown in other countries is not so easily identifiable, especially as I get older with the small print). I'll check out the WF farmers market since it's 15 minutes away, try the DC ones (and probably be envious of what the city offers, too). As for regularly shopping in DC, though, even with a hybrid, it's questionable to drive 45 minutes to buy local produce if I can get it closer, from the same vendors at the WF parking lots. Though, I do drive farther than that to PYO farms...

                      1. re: chowser

                        Takoma Park has a lot in common with Capital Hill and many other neighborhoods. They're like small towns inside urban areas so we get the best of all world in exchange for giving up big houses and yards. That was a choice made decades ago but we had to make trade-offs that others might not be willing to consider. Through most of the years we walked or used public transportation for work and school and it was worthwhile.

                        I can walk to Eastern Market and I'll be over there today for the 4th time this week - the place burned and I can still get what I need from the vendors who have set up temporary stalls on the sidewalk. It's not reasonable for you to drive 45 minutes to do your marketing but there probably is a regular market closer to you. Falls Church?
                        Maybe you could even start talking to some of the farmers about starting one. Or your local subdivision about sponsoring one. You might not get the glitzy producers but you could certainly get some good local farmers to bring in seasonal products. There are many who are shut out of the fancy markets because they won't do the paperwork for organic certification even though their farms are certainly sustainable and well-run. Their produce is great, local and absolutely fresh and delicious. Once a market is established, a few organic guys start showing up and you're off and running.
                        The farmers from the Sunday WF market might even be willing to set up a Saturday market near where you live since it's far enough away. The H Street Market is less than a mile from Eastern Market and both succeed.
                        Go after what you want.

                      2. re: chowser

                        <<Sigh>> Maybe I'm expecting too much from the farmers markets here and comparing them to ones in CA? We went to the WF farmers market yesterday. One vendor for each produce. I'm used to picking which vendor I want to buy organic strawberries from, not just having only one vendor selling regular strawberries. And that was true for every produce I looked at. I've found this to be true for the most part at other farmers markets in the NoVa (exterior, not Arlington and Falls Church which I imagine to be better). I did get some excellent crab cakes--thanks for all the suggestions on that. And some great looking pesticide free greens and hydroponic basil. Great crab cake dinner last night. Disappointing tomatoes and strawberries, coffee. We bought Smithmeadow farms pork chops and bacon. Very friendly. She also sold home made pasta. Blue Ridge Dairy didn't show up but maybe the rain stopped them. Next stop for me will be to try out Eastern Market and Dupont Circle. It is convenient to be next to WF because I could get my dairy there since there wasn't any at the farmers market.

                        1. re: chowser

                          You will be uplifted when you go to Dupont, don't fear! Yesterday, I made a beautiful dinner dinner from thier bounty. Since it was raining, I made Portugese kale soup with organic kale and chorizo from Cibola Farm.
                          Organic rhubarb was GORGEOUS, along with organic strawberries made for an amazing cobbler, which we'll be enjoying for a couple more days.
                          You'll get your pick and then some.
                          Courthouse in Arlington on Sat.'s is very good too, and should give you a wide variety.

                          1. re: monavano

                            That sounds great--thanks! I'm not ready to write off WF farmers market since it's still new but I do want alternatives, even if I have to drive farther. And, getting great chorizo. Ooh, I could make chorizo bread!

                            1. re: chowser

                              The smaller markets are good for what they are. I'm going to check out the Kingstowne Market in Springfield, which is on Friday afternoons. It is small, but closeby, and if I find a couple good vendors I'll go. But, with the expectation that they have fewer offerings.
                              I'd go to Dupont before Eastern Market, especially since the fire. Now, it's a great market, but perhaps not at the top of thier game due to the fire. Dupont is comming into it's glory this time of year.
                              Cibola offers chickens, buffalo, pork and goat too. Eco-Friendly foods offers meats, as well as Virginia Lamb.

                              1. re: monavano

                                I went to the Kingstown one last year. It was small, maybe I should have gone in with that expectation (but much bigger than the one at WF). Nothing really caught my eye but I wasn't in the shopping mood, just came out of a movie and happened upon it. If you find good vendors, I'd love to hear about them. Thanks!

                      3. I haven't done major research on this, but I like the Falls Church farmers market (Saturday morning, all year) at the municipal bldg. Produce is reasonably local (if you consider Pa. local), folks are friendly. I haven't been there yet this year, but there's one booth operator there who sells terrific lamb, including excellent sausage. Another one has beef and buffalo (as in bison). Wide selection of seasonal vegetables; a couple of venders sell homemade cheese, butter, etc. Parking is generally easy.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Gonzocook

                          There are parts of PA that are closer to NoVa than western VA.

                        2. Does anyone have any experience with the Fairfax City farmers market (Saturday mornings)?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Lowbar

                            We've gone to that market a couple times each year for the past several years. There's a very good peach vendor, plenty of good melons, and some nice veggie vendors.

                          2. I haven't been to any this year yet, but here's a report based on last year.

                            Ballston: Held Fridays around lunchtime. The market is small, say 8 vendors, with only a couple vendors selling produce with only a limited selection. I would not recommend making a special trip here.

                            College Park: Held Saturday mornings through early afternoon. This market is also relatively small, say 10 vendors. I've found the corn consistently poor, the watermelons good, and the tomatoes decent. The selection is good given the few number of vendors.