With the exception of Mondays, Fairfax County hosts farmer’s markets every other day of the week. The majority of the dozen markets are open from early May to mid-November, but check each location’s websites for specifics. About a dozen markets are held seasonally, alternating, morning, afternoon and evening hours for shopping convenience.
Master Gardeners can be found at some of the locations to answer personal gardening questions free of charge. While the prices charged can often be less expensive at grocery chains, the markets are an opportunity to support local producers and develop personal relationships with the same people. The vast assortment of seasonal produce and home-made food also assures peak freshness and quality.
All items sold are produced, baked , grown or made by the vendors who must be located within a 125 mile radius from each market. Resellers and brokers are prohibited from selling at these venues. This guarantees an abundance of very fresh produce, baked goods, flowers, plants, herbs, cheeses and meats directly from their source. Many of the same vendors set up at more than one market, but each market also has unique sellers and local favorites.
Mt. Vernon Farmers Market
On Tuesdays, from 8:00 am until noon, the Mt. Vernon Farmers Market is held near the Sherwood Hall Regional Library. The crowd starts early and continues until noon. Parking at this location is very congested. The lot is small and cars are often lined up to snag spaces as people leave. There is very little room to push a stroller at this market as the stalls are close together with no open space.
Several farmers set out a large display of produce from local growers as well as a couple of meat vendors selling buffalo, pork, lamb, ground beef and ribs. Some of the meats are advertised as free range. One seller offers samples of delicious, fresh baked sweet breads (pumpkin, cranberry, chocolate, ginger). Large slabs of delectable vegetable foccacia bread are also available in smaller, cut squares. The scent of baked cookies, pies, scones and croissants tempts buyers from large bins. Fresh cut flowers, wreaths, plants, herbs and floral arrangements adorn the stands of additional vendors.
Wakefield Farmers Market
Beginning at 2:00 pm on Wednesdays, until 6:00 p.m., the Wakefield Farmers Market in Annandale begins selling promptly when the opening bell rings, so don’t rush to get there early. It is a stroller friendly venue, with ample parking and plenty of space to roam.
Freshly made pasta was selling briskly near the baker whose huge containers of homemade croissants, scones, breads, biscotti and cookies began to disappear quickly. One company specializes in cheese and samples are offered for tasting in assorted flavors. Locally made honey is displayed in several different colors. Spice blend packets in numerous blends are for sale to make sauces and dips. Flowers and fresh herbs are available with a seasonally rotating selection. Pork and bacon were for sale by the same vendor who sold homemade soups in three different varieties.
Annandale Farmers Market
On Thursdays from 8:00 am until noon, Mason District Park hosts the Annandale Farmers Market which features wide aisles. The location is easy to navigate with a stroller and friendly, helpful personnel speed up the checkout lines. Located about a five minute walk from the vendors is a toddler play lot.
This market is home to almost a dozen different fruit and vegetable stands with huge displays of produce. Cut up fruit samples beckon potential customers to try new varieties of locally grown food. Grass fed lamb, beef, chicken and turkey (holiday orders were being taken) were in coolers along with fresh eggs. Local honey and spice blend packets were also sold. By 10:00 am, one of the bakers was almost completely sold out of all of the different varieties of croissants he had brought with him. Another vendor sold pies, cakes, cookies and delicious breads. Several blends of salsa flavored with herbs and spices were available to sample.
Kingstowne Farmers Market
On Friday evenings from 4:00 pm until 7:00 pm, a large crowd visits the Kingstowne Farmers Market area of Alexandria and vendors set up shop near the Mobile gas station. Parking can be very difficult as the market is located in the middle of a large shopping center and business patrons compete for spaces. Hold on tight to little ones since vehicles are coming from several different directions and auto traffic is constant up and down the aisles. Once you find a parking space, you may be able to navigate a small, umbrella stroller through the parking lot and towards the market, but it is a very busy area.
Nearly a half dozen produce stands offer up a wide selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables. The kettle corn vendor keeps customers coming back with free samples and bags of freshly popped, melt in your mouth popcorn. Three stands sold baked goods including hand-made, decorated cookies in whimsical shapes, scones, biscotti, croissants breads and brownies. One bakery vendor had some products which were gluten free. Another seller had samples of her nut and fruit brittles for tasting. Home-made salsa allowed buyers to taste and compare spice and herb blends. Kids lined up to purchase fresh ice cream in many different flavors.
Burke Farmers Market
On Saturday mornings from 8:00 am until noon, one of the largest markets with a spectacular variety of offerings, Burke Farmers Market, opens to the public. Parking is in the nearby commuter lot and about a five minute walk to the market. Stroller friendly with ample aisles and a huge, open space in the middle, this market attracts buyers with their large selection. A local dairy sells fresh mozzarella cheese, butter and yogurt. Plants, herbs and cut flowers were on display. Samples of tasty, flavored cheeses were offered by another seller.
At least eight vendors show cased pristine produce ready to be picked, bagged, weighed and taken home. Two vendors sold baked goods including cookies, pies, muffins and breads. One vendor advertised all natural beef and poultry while another sold free range buffalo and pork products.
Our Kids Helpful Tips
- Bring your own grocery bags.
- Small denominations of money are always welcomed by the vendors. Some, but not all of the sellers accept credit cards.
- Pack a cooler with ice packs if you plan on purchasing meats or perishables.
- Bring water or a beverage as the markets are out in the open and it can get hot.
- Plan accordingly before you visit. Most locations do not have restroom facilities.