Susan Birchler and Julie Bryant, founders of the Alexandria West End Farmer's Market
In 2006, Julie Bryant decided that that the West End neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia needed a farmers market. At the time, Julie owned and operated a small coffee shop adjacent to the Cameron Station neighborhood (in the West End, of course). She began talking to her customers about the idea, and one of them- Susan Birchler- volunteered to help out.
Three years later, the idea has grown from a small farmers market in the Ben Brenman Park to a robust marketplace and community meeting place. Together Julie and Susan act as the market managers, contacting farmers and vendors, publicizing the market, and working tirelessly for the continued success of the West End Alexandria market.
The West End Market opening hopes to bring the community together through more than great food, however. Several local artists and craftspeople will be at market exhibiting and selling their goods. The artists will return for the second week of the market, and will continue to sell their goods on the first Sunday of every month throughout the market season.
There will also be an acoustic musician, and a storyteller from the Alexandria Library.
Bring the entire family and support our local farmers and the grand opening of the third season of the Alexandria West End Farmer's Market.
And if my words haven't convinced you yet, maybe my sidewalk artworks will:
I may not be much of an artist, but hopefully the message is perfectly clear:
The Alexandria West End Farmers Market opens this Sunday, May 3rd!
Calvin Riggleman of Bigg Riggs Farm hosted his locally grown wedding on a farm in Winchester, Virginia on September 27th, 2008.
We arrived at High Hill Farm in between rain storms. After following streamer-ed signs announcing "Bigg Riggs Wedding," our car pulled into the gravel lot. A horseback riding cowboy valet trotted up to us, "Are you here for the wedding?" he asked. After confirming our attendance, he directed us where to park and urged us to "Come on in!"
The lovely ceremony took place under a large tent, the rain plan for their outdoor plans. Just as the ceremony concluded, the sun shone through the clouds and a rainbow illuminated the sky. I've heard it's lucky to have rain on your wedding day, but a rainbow seemed like the confirmation of happy days to come.
This wedding was unlike any other I've attended. Many people try to personalize their weddings by selecting a color scheme or assisting a caterer in creating a menu. But this wedding was beyond personalized: it came completely from the heart and soul of the Riggleman family.
You see, all of the food that was served to guests was grown (or raised, in the case of the chickens) on Bigg Riggs Farm in West Virginia. And if growing food to serve 200 people isn't enough work, picture this: the wedding flowers were also all grown on the farm. The bride, Erin, and each bridesmaid carried beautiful bouquets of these colorful zinnias. The groomsmen each had a unique zinnia boutonniere, as well.
The tables were set with the flowers, as well as the couple's gift to their guests: jars of their homemade apple butter.
Bigg Riggs Farm's hot pepper jelly mixed with cream cheese is one of my favorite snacks. The pepper jelly was served with crackers and some of Calvin's yummy peppers, small sweet peppers.
Delicious multi-colored peppers, zucchini, and squash were sauteed with herbs and spices.
The meal was rounded out with barbecued chicken, roasted red, white and blue potatoes, hot wings, and a really incredible eggplant Parmesan which even pleased my husband- who claims to dislike eggplant. This eggplant dish was so good that I had to ask Calvin for more information about how it was made.
As it turns out, the food for the wedding was produced by the same company that jars all of the farm's preserved products: Gourmet Central, a chef-run operation in Romney, West Virginia. Reportedly, Calvin took 900 pounds of his fabulous tomatoes to Gourmet Central and told them to create the best tasting pasta sauce they possibly could. This sauce topped the delicious eggplant Parmesan we ate.
But, I just can't get over the 900 pounds of tomatoes!
Lucky for you, those 900 pounds of tomatoes produced much more pasta sauce than was needed for the wedding. Check out the pasta sauce during your next farmer's market trip!
And be sure to congratulate the newlyweds, Calvin and Erin Riggleman, when you stop by.