The thermometer read 46 degrees in Bristow, but people were not focused on the cold. They came to Bristow Commons on Devlin Road to enjoy the outdoor markets, sample some cider, beef sliders, kettle popcorn and hopefully buy those and other tasty delights produced locally, following a sustainable agricultural model.
Janssen said Bristow is more of the local market she was targeting.
“This is very local. This would be for the long-term a much better market for the kind of shoppers we want,” said Janssen.
Janssen describes those ideal shoppers as people who live nearby and will incorporate Smart Markets into their weekly grocery routine. In return, Smart Markets provides education and outreach to community members about sustainable agriculture and fresh locally-grown/produced food.
Janssen is also very happy with the response she has received from Bristow residents, who have told her they have felt neglected by retailers and would love to see more fresh, locally grown food available in Bristow.
She also believes that the market is booming, especially considering it is a cold day in January, just four weeks after the market has opened.
Janssen ran farmers markets for the Fairfax County Parks Authority for several years, before starting Smart Markets four years ago. Smart Markets currently operates in different communities each day rotating through Bristow, Centreville, Oakton and Reston.
- Sally Holdener’s Rainbow Acres Farm in Nokesville offers customers free range chickens and turkeys.
Janssen believes farmer’s markets are important for people’s health, for the environment and for the support of independent businesses. They support local farmers and home based industries. They promote responsibly grown produce and raised livestock. Finally, because everything is transported no less than 150 miles, they help reduce the carbon footprint.
They also satisfy the desire of many Northern Virginia suburbanites who want fresh food with less-preservatives for their families. And while it has become increasingly difficult to be certified organic at farmers markets, customers can speak directly with the farmers. Most respond that they use as little pesticides as possible.Tony Fetter, of Tony Fetter’s Fruit Farm, who drives to Bristow from his southern Pennsylvania farm to participate in the market, said he goes out of his way to farm sustainably. Fetter also believes he offers fresher products.
“East coast fruits are so much fresher than what you buy in a grocery store, which has to be shipped in cold storage,” Fetter said.
Local fruits are also vine ripened and are not genetically engineered.
Sally Holdener of Rainbow Acres Farms in Nokesville also believes in locally produced foods.
Unlike most grocery bought poultry, Holdener’s chickens and turkeys are free-ranged, but raised on 3500 acres here in Prince William County. None are genetically engineered, nor are they fed hormones, and all receive natural feeds.
Over at the next table, Liam and Maya Connors of Haymarket buy character-themed cake pops from Shelby Biancaniello of Cakes by Shelby. Smart Markets has helped Biancaniello launch her Haymarket home-based business.
“I don’t use any preservatives, make them fresh, dip them fresh and freeze them,” said Biancaniello, who is building her business while also working as a full-time mom.
Bristow residents have a choice of many supermarkets nearby, but they are choosing locally grown food for their children.“My husband went here last week with the girls and came back with a huge amount,” said Nora Wong, who moved to Bristow two years ago.
Wong brought her daughters this week to buy produce and order cakes for their birthdays.
“My husband, being a guy, wanted the meat, but the girls love the apples,” Wong said.
For Bristow residents who have not yet checked out the Smart Market at Bristow Commons, the farmers market is open every Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
© 2012, Stacy Shaw. All rights reserved.
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