Thursday, July 24, 2014

A fresh harvest at Community Market

It’s Saturday morning and the quiet sound of birds singing is broken suddenly by the rattling of garage doors as they are hoisted into a coil at the ceiling. Large trucks pull up and back into their places and the canopies open, displaying the words “Community market.” The clock strikes 7 and Lynchburg’s sleepy downtown begins to wake.

Farm fresh — Local farmers and vendors gather at the Lynchburg Community Market to sell home-grown produce and made-from-scratch goods. Various residents, visitors and college students come every weekend to look around, purchase products and support local businesses. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

Every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lynchburg’s Community Market, often referred to as the “farmer’s market,” comes alive with the buying and selling of local goods. Though the market is open Tuesday through Saturday year round, Saturday mornings in the spring and summer months offer a special harvest of fresh products.

“Even though some of these products are not technically organic, a lot of these farmers grow locally, so it always tastes better than what you get in the store,” said Zahna Soule, who visits the market every Saturday morning. “This is a Saturday-morning ritual for me.”

Tables decorated with fresh flowers, pies, bread and large jars of fresh Virginia honey line the inside and outside of the large market area. Soule boasts of the market’s low prices and the opportunity it gives to support the local community.

“I can get eggs here from this woman. They are fresh eggs for less money than I can buy eggs that have been packaged, stored and run around the country three times on the way to supermarkets,” Soule said. “It’s typically less expensive and you’re supporting your local community.”

When customers visit, they will find vendors like Shirley Carmile who smiles at customers and offers them samples of her homemade preserves.

“They’re home grown. The only ingredients I buy are vinegar and sugar,” Carmile said. “My husband actually does all of the growing at the house.”

Vibrant shades of red and green fill mason jars. Customers stopped to scoop small portions onto crackers and nod in approval as they take their first bites.

“This is my first time and it’s great,” Liberty senior Eric Reynolds said. “I didn’t even know this existed.”

Reynolds, who came with a group of friends, enjoyed his time at the market, visiting vendors and buying some fresh fruits and veggies.

“It’s great supporting local farmers,” Reynolds said. “I’ll definitely come back again.”

In addition to farm-fresh foods and home- canned preserves, the market also offers a wide variety of breakfast and lunch items to sit down and enjoy.

“Would you like to try “The Bees Knees?” Julie Black said, calling customers over to her small espresso counter to try her new latte creation: espresso mixed with steamed milk, vanilla extract and pure Virginia honey. Her business called “The Bean Counter” is exclusively run at the Community Market when she comes on Saturdays.

“I’m new to this area so it’s a great opportunity to meet people,” Black said. ““I love this. By the time Saturday comes, it’s always fun.”

Every weekend visitors can find Black at her station, chatting with customers, laughing with coworkers and masterfully preparing a variety of beverages.

“We’re hoping (the farmer’s market) stays around,” Black said. “Tell everyone to come back.”

The Community Market is located at 1219 Main Street in downtown Lynchburg. For more information call 434-455-4485 or visit their page on the City of Lynchburg’s website, lynchburgva.gov, keyword “Community Market.”

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