Great Falls: Farmers Market Returns Saturday

Great Falls Farmers Market to celebrate 10th anniversary with "farmer's market basket"

By Kathleen Murphy, Market Manager

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The years have passed in quiet footsteps of vendors and local neighborhoods coming and going, loving and appreciating, doing finest work and choosing only the finest for our loving famlies' nourishment and refinement.

The story of the farmers market began with participants in our local 2020 Vision focus group discussion, followed by inclusion in the 2020 Vision survey: What do you want Great Falls to be like in the year 2020? (No, not an eye test!) Robb Watters launched the market the last Saturday in April, 2007 at St. Francis Episcopal on Georgetown Pike. That market began to lose its heartbeat when everyone left for summer vacation in early June. Mike Kearney, owner of The Old Brogue, rescued the market, bringing it to the parking lot on Walker Road and taking responsibility for the management. After three years, the parking lot owner became concerned about risk and the market was  moved to the Village Green Day School down the road. The shortage of parking led to its contraction. After the fifth year, Mike looked for someone to take over the market. That's when I accepted this responsibility for which I had no experience or background - just a willingness to give a try and a hope to keep one aspect of our community vision - to have a vibrant village center where friends and family can meet and greet - alive.

Jorge Kfory, owner of the parking lot is to be commended for his community spirit and generosity in  allowing the market to return to the parking lot next to the Wells Fargo Bank. He even configured the parking stops to achieve maximum safety for the farmers market visitors.

As we open the summer market for the 10th time we think, we think back on all of the vendors who have come and gone, and the messages they have conveyed about how we choose to eat and how important our health is - realizing "let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food." We are pleased that several organic produce vendors are joining our market during the next few weeks and we have fresh and fresh prepared foods that satisfy every dietary requirement, whether traditional, paleo, vegetarian, or vegan. We offer a rich bouquet of choices of the finest ingredients, expressing the most creative talents. Meats are grass-fed, free-range, organically supplemented; vegan burgers and fresh prepared are offered weekly; there are lots of healthy snacks to enjoy on the run.

This Saturday, we begin our 10th Anniversary all-summer-celebration with our famous "farmers market basket." Get to know all our new and old vendors. Receive a free raffle ticket at each vendor you shop out. The winner receives a market basket full of contribution from every vendor.

As soon as the summer harvest begins, look forward to a "taste of Great Falls" celebration of local cuisine - coming soon...just waiting for summer veggies to arrive. Whether Mother's Day, Father's Day...all the important family celebrations...look to us for gift-giving and feast-making. We are here for you, rain or shine. Thank you, Great Falls neighbors and friends, for your enduring support. You are always welcome to drop by, greet your neighbors, listen to music. No need to purchase anything. Just enjoy our vibrant village center and family meet.

Steven Kurtz wins Great Falls Farmers Market's Healthy Snack Contest

By Kathleen Murphy, Market Manager 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween fell on Saturday this year, and the farmers market was filled with vendors in costume with treats for everyone. Pumpkin was the theme, and Dor Niaz, owner/chef of Zamarod, Emily Doerman Frizell, owner/chef/dietitian of Nutritious and Delicious, and Lisa Jackson, owner of Carpe Diem Wellness demonstrated an array of pumpkin recipes, showing the many flavors, textures and aromas that can be enjoyed from a single vegetable.

At the second annual Healthy Snack contest , Steven Kurtz was the winner, as judged by Lisa Jackson and Pericles Silva of Greenfare, based on the healthy ingredients in the recipe - medjool dates used instead of sugar, almond and coconut flour instead of wheat flour - and the excellent shape and perfect degree of cooking, rendering a tasty, chewy and healthful cookie.

Thirteen-year old Great Falls resident, Steven Kurtz, has a passion for baking. He also has autism. By the age of seven, Steven knew that he wanted to be a professional baker. His family took that passion and turned it into a homeschool curriculum to teach Steven math, science, life and social skills, geography, reading and writing. Steven researches recipes, shops for ingredients and bakes weekly as part of his homeschool program. His specialties include cookies, cupcakes, quick breads and pretzels.

For the healthy baking contest, Steven used a recipe by Talia Fuhrman that his aunt introduced him to a few years ago. The original cookie recipe called for white beans. Steven replaced the white beans with pumpkin, a seasonal ingredient that was being highlighted at the Great Falls Farmer's Market.

Inspired by Steven, the Kurtz family has founded Whippourwill, a nonprofit bakery aimed at employing young adults with disabilities. Whippourwill will be selling Steven's creations just in time for the holidays in November and December at the Great Falls Farmer's Market. Visit www.whippourwill.org for more information.

 

Deer Population in Great Falls: A Historical Perspective

By Kathleen Murphy, Market Manager

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

There was a time in Great Falls when residents provided most of their own food from start to finish: They grew vegetables in their gardens, fruits in their orchards, grains in their field, and livestock in their pastures. They hunted deer and fowl in forests, fished in ponds, streams, and the Potomac, and gathered shellfish from the Bay.

To find out how Great Falls residents fed themselves before 1900, The Great Falls Historical Society research on culinary styles (what people ate) and how food was prepared, is available in their book, How to Cure a Thousand Pounds of Ham and Other Recipes (GFHS, 1987), available for purchase at the GFHS tent at the farmers market. Local residents managed their food supply at a time when there was no gas or electricity for stoves, refrigeration, or lighting, and no mechanical means of transportation by depending on the bounty of the land. Ingredients in their recipes included wild game they hunted themselves - deer, rabbit, squirrel, duck, pheasant, wild turkey, and muskrat. The yield of their garden was also diverse, including onion, barley, carrot, corn, tomatoes, beans of several types, potatoes, herbs, and okra, to list a few.

While living off the land seems idyllic, we now understand that local wildlife was over-hunted and the land was over-farmed. The deer and their wild predators (wolves, mountain lions, bobcats) were hunted until there were no more left in Fairfax County by 1920.Local fields no longer yielded sufficient crops or supported sufficient livestock that farm families made livings from - in the absence of agricultural farming practices that refortified the soil. Hastened by the economic hardships of the Great Depression, many Great Falls land owners sold and moved. A number of fallow gardens and fields have grown to forest. Many local farmers who remained joined the Great Falls Grange, an organization dedicated to educating farmers in more advanced, sustainable agricultural practices.

While this drama was playing out, the deer populations made an astounding recovery. With their predators eliminated, hunting laws limiting game harvests put in place, deer imported from other states to restock the local population, and suburban development, a mosaic of vegetation emerged that supported many more deer than the original deer forests. By the 1970's, deer were reappearing around Great Falls. By 1999, deer were so numerous that Fairfax County started a deer management program. No one is talking about bringing back the deer's wild predators. Now, growing a vegetable garden in Great Falls requires construction of a sturdy 8-foot tall fence to keep the deer out. And the deer have significantly altered the ecology of our beautiful hardwood forests. The understory plants, except for invasive plants that deer won't touch (otherwise they wouldn't be invasive) are gone in most forests. Animals, small and large, that depended on this layer of forest now have inadequate habitat to survive.

While the hunting practices pre-1900s were not sustainable, having eradicated deer from our vicinity by the early 1990s, our current practice of allowing the deer population to grow exponentially without limit is also not sustainable. Our forests and those that depend on its understory for cover and fortification are forecast to disappear within the next 20 years, if we do nothing. The sustainability of our community's diverse wildlife depends on the decisions on the decisions and actions of our community to bring our wildlife and their habitats and food sources into the balanced alignment that can be sustained.

The Great Falls Farmers Market focusing on "Field to Table" over the next two weeks, refreshing our community's understanding of wild game as a food source, culminating in a presentation of t he health benefits of venison, with a cook off by local chefs and a free tasting of their recipes at the farmers market on Saturday, April 25 - the opening day of our 2015 summer farmers market.

Culling our local deer herd to a level that is sustainable can be a nourishing experience: refreshing our primordial understanding of action of hunting, providing a respectful connection with our wildlife and their habitat as experienced during a hunt, awakening us to the fact that all of the meat we eat - all pink and nicely wrapped in plastic - depends on the taking of a live animal, which is a serious and solemn reality that deserves our most solemn respect and deepest gratitude. Eliminating all the middleman in our food chain, restoring our connection to the earth. Re-establishing this connection, we hear a call to join together in bringing our community into right balance - it is ours to ensure that the generations who follow us will enjoy a thriving local habitat, abundant with wildlife - in sustainable balance.

Alex Bartolozzi Wins Healthy Snack Contest

By Kathleen Murphy, Market MAnager 

Isabelle Saba, a cadet in Girl Scout Troop 1991, wrote to the farmers market about an idea she had to teach young children about nutrition and healthy living at the farmers market. Some lessons she suggested stressing are "what foods are in season, how buying local is better, the importance of knowing what you eat, where the food comes from, and why the farmers market is always the best choice."

Based on her suggestion, and noting that other young people have expressed their longing to participate in some way in the farmers market, we held the very first "Healthy Snack Contest" this past Saturday. for 8 to 12 yeas olds. We know it was a rough day to get up and prepare a recipe after an amazing Halloween celebration in the Village Centre and elsewhere on Friday night, so if you missed the chance to show your chef abilities, we will be holding another contest real soon. (www.greatfallsfarmersmarket.org or www.facebook.com/greatfallscommunityfarmersmarket for information.) We are pleased to announce that Alex Bartolozzi won the contest with his "Protein Balls."

Thanks to Isabelle Saba (Girl Scout Troop 1991) and Lisa Colburn Stewart (www.familyandforks.com) for serving as judges of this first event

The Tastes of Autumn:John Conway, master chef, The Old Brogue visits the Farmers Market

By Kathleen Murphy, Market Manager

Thursday, December 4, 2014

There are ways we eat and tastes we know that have been with us since birth. Many of our ingrained ways of eating are not tied to the seasons as they could be. Eating more healthy involves making changes that connect us with more seasonal specialties in tasteful ways.

John Conway showed how to make ingredients that you don't usually think of together really dance: peppers and onions, butternut squash, and hearty kale. Flipping and tossing a wonderful medley of red and green peppers and strips of white onions, bright yellow cubed squash, with a  bit of garlic and chopped red onion, finally mixed with kale until it softened, combined with poached salmon. Just delightful! The lesson: think of vegetables as an orchestra of flavors that can be mixed and matched to achieve a remarkable combination that is a pleasure to enjoy. At the same time our more traditional recipes can be adjusted: he brought a lamb stew with a broth of all the simmered vegetables we think of fondly - carrots, onions, potatoes, celery -as-back-drop to a gently stewed, pastured lamb that was exquisite in flavor and texture. It was clear - this was a lamb that grazed freely - no excessive fat to be had. the desserts that followed - yum - you had to be there.

Coming up: Great Falls Farmers Market Healthy Snack Contest. After the big day of indulging in 'Trick-or-Treat' candies on Friday night, we invite children between 8 and 12 years to enter our Healthy Snack Contest on Saturday. Sign up from 9-10 a.m. Judging is at 11 a.m. All ingredients must be unprocessed . All snacks must be made from scratch by the contestant. Bonus points if you use ingredients from the farmers market. Each contestant must bring a copy of their recipe and enough snacks for the judges to sample. Prizes are "Market Bucks." First prize is $25 Market Bucks. Some vendors will be offering mini-market baskets, so lots of prizes. See you Saturday

The Great Falls Farmers Market - Where Saturdays are Local

By Kathleen Murphy, Market Manager

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Please know that you have a standing invitation to join us every Saturday morning (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at the lot next to the Wells Fargo Bank for a spirited community event, the Great Falls Farmers Market - immediately following Cars & Coffee. now in its seventh year, our local farmers market is a work in progress, defined by the freshness of our produce. the quality and uniqueness of our vendors, the delight of our musicians, the warmth of our visitors, the loyalty  and dedication of our "devotees"  and the spirit of our local community as evidenced by local nonprofit presence, special guests and unique events.  

*Fresh: we have a core of long-standing vendors who bring local and certified organic vegetables and fruits, meats, eggs, and baked goods - Penn Farm, Diaz Berries & Veggies, High View Farm, Tuscarora Organic Growers Coop, and Tyson Farms (new this winter), as well as Dimitri unfiltered extra-virgin Olive Oil and aged Balsamic Vinegars.

*New Great Falls Businesses: We are very proud of our delightful made-in-Great-Falls offerings such as Backyard Eden's local honey, Jeff Rainey, Apiarist; Plain & Simple's amazing muffins and quiches; and Amaithea Ridge Farm's artisan goat-milk-based soaps and lotions. Tasteful Landscapes plants wonderful herb gardens, while State Gardens landscapes fruit orchards and more. Most amazing, 11-year-old Carolyn of Caro's Creations crafts hand-made duct-tape wallets and more. Other nearby (i.e. Sterling & Herndon) local business include Little Corners Petit Fours, a master baker, and Puttering Mom, a maker of hand-crafted gifts items and artistic cards.

*Dense Nutrition Options: who would imagine when we start in the early days with all the wonderful gourmet items arranged by Robb Watter when he launched the initial farmers market that would also have a thriving raw food vendor (Postmodern Foods), an amazing thoroughly gluten-free vendor (ViolAmi and komchi, etc.; Daisy's Probiotics - fermented ginger ale and kombucha), a paleo (& more) baker (Bonn Boni)?

*Breakfast or Lunch at the Market: Need a quick bite? Happy Crepes prepares a custom European-sty;e crepe for you while you wait. Del Sure offers Peruvian empanadas, warm and ready to eat. Baguette Republic offers all your favorite muffins, Danish, croissants, scones, and more - baked the night before the good old-fashioned European way. 

Having a community farmers market where you can meet and greet your neighbors, learn about local non-profits, be a central point for information on our community and more, is the collective achievement of non-profits, be a central point for information on our community and  more, is the collective achievement of all who support local. Serving out community all year round through all seasons, our farmers market is a work in progress, growing through the influence of your footsteps . What we become depends on those who come forth to incubate their fledgling businesses with us--bringing what they grow, cultivate or make--and those who come by to encourage their very local efforts.

For information on weekly events and specials, please visit www.greatfallsfarmersmarket.org or visit us at www.facebook.com/greatfallscommunityfarmersmarket