May 7 is the day lovers of fresh fruits and vegetables have been waiting for – Burke's farmers market will reopen.
The Saturday market will be open from 8 a.m. to noon through Nov. 19 and is located at the at 5671 Roberts Parkway.
Fairfax County has 12 farmers markets, with different locations open every day of the week except Monday. The Fairfax County Park Authority runs the markets.
“These bustling marketplaces draw thousands of Fairfax County residents with a feast for the senses," FCPA's farmers market website says. "The vibrant colors of freshly picked fruits and vegetables contrast with the fragrant perfume of cut flowers.”
The markets are overseen by coordinator Phyllis Ingram, who is charged with vetting the vendors and making sure they are in compliance with all Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulations. All products sold must be produced within 125 miles of Fairfax County.
Most of the vendors in Burke come from Virginia but a couple come from West Virginia. In addition to fruits, vegetables and flowers, the Burke market also sells dairy including ice cream, baked goods, meat and plants. A new vendor this year is Holy Cow Delivery, selling a variety of milk products, Ingram said.
The vendors are chosen by Ingram and the various market masters. They are volunteers who staff the markets weekly and know the demographics of their market.
“The real ‘hero’ is the volunteer market master who selflessly is at each market whether it is below freezing or nearly 100 degrees,” Ingram said.
Many of the markets, including Burke, also have master gardeners on site to answer questions about plants. The Fairfax County Master Gardeners Association Inc. is a nonprofit organization of volunteers whose mission is to provide advice and assistance to home gardeners in the community.
Farmers in some markets give their extra produce to food pantries in their communities. Ingram said one Burke vendor, Red Rake Farm of Hanover, has expressed interest in giving away its unsold produce at the end of the day rather than throwing it on the compost pile.
Ingram said people who shop the market really appreciate the local touch.
“I think people like to connect to the farmers and producers who grow or make the products in the market,” she said. “Most of the produce is picked the day before they are taken to the market so you get the freshest fruit and vegetables available. Also if you have questions you can talk to the person who grew it, picked it or works on the farm, right there at the market.”