Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fresh local food in Charlottesville

Forest Lakes Farmers Market
You have probably heard by now that Charlottesville, Virginia has been judged the Happiest city in the nation. A recent 19 News story attributes its happiness partly to abundant food options. I'll have to admit that I'm certainly much happier with the local fresh food options in Cville compared to where I lived previously. Moving here from a small rural town in Southwest Virginia, I didn't realize that I was moving to the Garden of Eden. There are three farmers markets within 7 miles of my house!

Home grown in Albemarle County
Years ago I sold produce in Pulaski and Blacksburg, Virginia. I even set up selling crafts at the Roanoke City Market at Christmas time. The desire for farm fresh produce has really grown since the days of my attempt to be a farmer. It's evident that Charlottesville residents support our local farmers by the number of markets that promote local food in Albemarle County where the city of Charlottesville is located.

Forest Lakes Farmers Market
Yesterday I checked out the Farmers Market at Forest Lakes. The market was larger than I anticipated and is heavily supported by those living in the North side of the county. A sea of fresh produce, bread, meat, eggs, frozen drinks, popsicles, jam, pesto, and even bee propolis and pollen can be found at the market. I love the fact that this market is open in the afternoon each Tuesday from 4 pm - 7 pm (NOTE: on Thursday, same time, there is a market in Earlysville).

Of course the biggest Farmer's Market in the area is the downtown City Market that is open on Saturday's from 7 am - noon. A lively market located in an open parking lot where one can buy produce, plants, crafts, and prepared food and drinks. Each year it becomes bigger and bigger and a permanent market space appears to finally be on the drawing board for this hugely popular and growing market.

The Farmers in the Park market is held at Meade Park on Wednesday from 3 pm - 7 pm. Located near the water park on the East side of downtown, offering veggies, fruit, plants, and more.

Hunt Country Market Daily Menu
Another popular market in West Albemarle County near the Horse Race Track is the Shady Lane Market. Open Thursday from 11 am - 5:30 pm  One family farm located in Free Union provides breads, produce, and plants.

While you are in the area, if you would prefer have your meals prepared for you, check out the historic 1911 Hunt Country Market and Deli. Each day their exterior chalkboard touts a new take home dish. Dinners are available for pick up from Monday - Saturday, 4 pm - 7 pm (call ahead to reserve).

Each Fall Market Central hosts Meet yer Eats. This tour of local farms is amazing, check out my prior year blog post about this event.

I would be remiss to not list a few grocery store options we have in Charlottesville for local foods, Relay Foods brings items from stores and farms and trucks them to various pick up spots all over the area. You order online and go pick it up. A good way to get a large variety of items from several stores and farms in one spot. Our local Whole Foods was relocated several years ago and has grown in size from a small crowded and honestly not the "happiest" place to a large welcoming fun grocery store. Read my blog post about the relocation, it was one of my all time most enjoyable write ups. Other popular groceries embracing local foods are Foods of all Nations, Rebecca's, and Integral Yoga. Even Harris Teeter carries a local line of produce.

I'll end this post listing a few of my favorite Cville food finds:

What's your favorite Cville local food find? I would love to add to the list!


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Through the Garden Gate Tour features Vintage Finds

Entryway into the gardens.
Today a fellow gardening friend and I visited the interesting garden and home of The Askew's of Charlottesville, Virginia. It was the featured garden for July in the Piedmont Master Gardeners tour series, Through the Garden Gate. Tours are hosted the 2nd Saturday of the month from 9 - noon, in a different garden each month.

Great mix of herbs and collectibles in the garden.
The Askew's are huge collectors of vintage and have designed their home and gardens around the items they have acquired. Sturdy industrial metals and large ceramics are tastefully woven throughout their garden. I especially enjoyed the collection of old farm equipment, fencing, and building discards that had been artfully placed into select garden spots. It takes a creative mind to find uses for found items that might have otherwise been tossed out.

Re-purposed entry door block A/C Unit. 
For some time I have been scratching my head trying to decide how to put some of my collected items to good use and the Askew's have inspired me to think out of the box. I really liked their placement of an old (but really cool) door to block their air conditioning unit and how they hung an old window frame and shutters on the side of a shed to make it look like a real window.

A quiet place to sip some tea - love the fence!
There were many quaint nooks in the garden in which one could sit and relax, all providing a different view of the grounds. The Askew's love of the garden was obvious, all vistas within the house were really extensions of the garden. The expansive front porch and back sun porch providing panoramic views of the garden.

Rarely Through the Garden Gate tours include the inside of the home but today was one of those days. Throughout the house, walls displayed family photos and memorabilia. I loved the feminine touches like the sweet handkerchief collections dotting the rooms and the cool framed vintage bathing suit along with the historic swim team photo. One would have to return again and again to really digest all the cool finds in the house.

Whimsical shed just for "her", MEN KEEP OUT.
Because I collect and sell vintage, I especially enjoyed this tour. I couldn't get enough of the found and family treasures and wish I had more hours to explore this interesting home.


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