On Saturday mornings, North Arlington residents can now walk, bike, jog, hop the Metro or drive to buy local at the new Marymount Farmers Market (Main Campus at the corner of North Glebe Road and Old Dominion Drive). There, they can leisurely enjoy a cup of fresh roasted craft coffee and handmade mini-donuts or French pastries while selecting artisan cheeses, homemade pies, or fresh lettuces and ears of corn picked just the day before.
In a joint partnership with the Arlington-based nonprofit Field to Table Inc., Marymount University is the host of the first farmers market north of Lee Highway. The market is open Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Nov. 19. Volunteer-driven Field to Table, which assists with oversight responsibilities for the local producer-only market, is part of the locavore movement, which encourages people to reestablish their relationship with the land and purchase from local farmers and food preparers. The focus is also on improving the nutritional (and taste) experience and the overall health of the communities they serve.
Twelve vendors were hand selected by North Arlington neighbors and civic associations under the Lee Highway Alliance to offer fresh, organic fruits and vegetables from local family farms; hormone- and antibiotic-free meats from humanely raised animals; free range eggs; preservative-free, award-winning goat cheeses; French patisserie baked goods; made-to-order donuts; locally sourced ingredients handmade pies; small batch craft, single origin coffees; New Zealand-style savory meat, cheese and vegetable pies; barrel-fermented pickles, krauts, and kimchi and other specialty foods.
The Marymount Farmers Market fulfills important goals of our University, said Marymount Assistant Vice President of Campus Planning and Management Upen Malani. We pride ourselves on giving back to our community whenever we can. Our location is so convenient for many Arlington residents, and we are delighted to welcome them onto our campus. Service to others is one of our Common Ground pillars, and our students will become more and more involved into the summer and fall, volunteering and helping out at the market in many ways. As a campus community, we are committed to sustainability and are pleased at this opportunity to support local farmers and buying local which helps cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduces the carbon footprint from produce trucked or flown in from long distances.
From the response so far, the surrounding community is heartily embracing the Marymount Farmers Market. Despite its cool, rainy debut on May 21, market attendance was close to 1,000. The vendors were happily surprised at the enthusiastic response our community gave them, and much of the produce, meats and specialty foods sold out quickly, Malani said.
Field to Table Executive Director Rob Swennes explained that the small independent farmers offer market patrons a greater variety of produce, promoting biodiversity. Everything sold at the market, whether grown or hand prepared, comes from less than 125 miles away. Many of our patrons are tasting for the first time or the first time in decades how fresh and delicious just-picked-from-the-field vegetables and fruits can be. It is almost like discovering a whole new sense. Eating local means when the growing season is over, that particular vegetable or fruit is gone and you have to wait for its next local growing season. We call that the grieving season, he added, laughing. But our patrons tell us that the fully ripe richness of its fresh taste is well worth the wait.
Swennes added that more and more consumers not just foodies are buying local from their neighborhood market, which returns shopping to an experience of community. Its fun. Its lively. Its family friendly. Friendships can develop as the farmer can tell you everything about how something was raised (and kids learn real food does not come from a plastic package). I think of the Marymount Farmers Market as a cross between A Midsummer Nights (or rather, days) Dream and the Merchant of Venice. We bring it all in and set it all up in colorful tents with all the festive sights, sounds and smells. Our customers stroll, sample, savor, save (buying local and eating healthy does save money!) and then in a few hours, pouf, like magic, it all disappears. And, you can look forward to the next time the market is in town.
Marymount Farmers Market, 2807 N. Glebe Rd.
Open to the public. Saturdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Free parking is available in the Blue Garage off Yorktown Blvd. Accessible parking is available in the surface lot off of North Glebe Road. Ask at the Marymount Guard House located at the campuss main entrance.
Along with fresh fruits and vegetables from local family farms and orchards, Marymount Farmers Market patrons can take home patisserie-style baguettes, pastries, scones and muffins from French-owned Panorama Bakery who also supply top-tier hotels and restaurants in the D.C. area.
Patrons enjoyed the sunshine on the second Saturday of the Marymount Farmers Market as they shopped local vendors, such as Walnut Hill Farm, a small family farm that raises grass fed beef, pasture poultry and lamb and heritage pork.
Patrons checked out Number One Sons, a vendor from Arlington that makes barrel fermented foods (pickles, kimchi and other foods) combining regional ingredients for the local producer-only Marymount Farmers Market.
Marymount Farmers Market offers in season locally grown produce from family farms, such as Spring Valley Farm and Orchard, a 345 acre farm managed with the fundamentals of sustainable agriculture.