Getting into the Farmers Market Craze, with Dogs, Donuts and Growlers
In my quest to keep “This Boomer’s Life” interesting, I went in search of fun at the farmers market, an institution around here. One might think of farmers markets as an extension of grocery shopping–while out in the open air and fresh, it’s still pretty much the mundane pursuit of putting food on the table. Not so! I discovered a new world at the South of the James Market, a Richmond favorite. This is a farmers market on steroids, far more than fresh fruit and veggie stalls. Two of the best things about this market: dogs and donuts.
First of all, dogs are welcome here, and they attend in droves, which lends the most sweet and neighborly vibe to this already communal setting. I LOVE dogs. They are all such characters. I love their expressions and individuality, I love watching them interact with each other, and I love observing the connection and conversation the dogs at the market sparked among people. Suddenly strangers were not strangers anymore, but fellow dog lovers. It is a dog parade at South of the James. The market has water bowls around the area and various vendors even sell dog treats.
And the donuts: Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen donut truck had people lined up in a queue that was up to 50 deep as we all patiently waited for them to fry out those glazed babies in batches and serve them up warm. Is it worth the wait? Yes.
Here are other things to love about this market:
Baby animals! There is always an area with farm animals to visit, usually baby goats, lambs and bunnies. I would say how nice for the kids, but my college age daughter and I love the animals as much as any 5 year old.
Food trucks! Including some of my favorites: Monique’s Crepes, Boka, and Goatocado, and many more. What are you craving? Coffee, ice cream and ice pops, empanadas, sandwiches, BBQ, seafood? Come hungry. And you will find so many vendors, in addition to farmers offering fresh fruits and veggies, locally produced cheeses, dairy, and meats: There are also fine artists craftsmen and “culinary artisans” offering fabulous riches too numerous to mention. Go discover. I also appreciate that the market offers non-profits space to set up shop and let people know about their work in the community.
But here was the best new discovery of the day: Kombucha on tap! A company by the name of Blue Ridge Bucha from Nelson County had a stall at the market and offered us tastings of the three varieties they had on tap. We were sold! Cold kombucha on the hottest day of the year so far–it tasted great. It kind of tastes like it is good for you and I love it anyway, or maybe that’s why I love it. Not sure, but it’s all good.
Do you know about kombucha? It is a popular healthy drink craze and I have been hearing about over the past few years, but I never really knew the story. My Google search revealed that many fans of kombucha believe it to be very healthy and curative, as well as a “brain food.” This from Blue Ridge Buca’s site (blueridgebucha.com): Kombucha is a live, fermented tea that originated in Eurasia approximately 2,000 years ago. Often enjoyed after a meal, it is considered healthful to the digestive system for its probiotic content, amino acids and active enzymes.
Apparently this kombucha is not alcoholic, I don’t know whether that is good news or bad news.
I then discovered I could buy the kombucha in growler form. Do you know what a growler is? I didn’t until just recently, I guess I am out of touch: It is a refillable glass bottle (jug), usually referring to beer. So you buy your unfilled growler and then you can take it to a place that has the stuff on tap and get it refilled—for less than if you bought the product by the bottle, and it is environmentally friendly!
We bought a small growler (quart) and now have had it filled numerous times at Whole Foods, which has it on tap. Apparently so does the Ellwood Thompson market, if you live in the Richmond VA area.
And then, good Lord, I found out that Whole Foods has TONS of stuff on tap! I can get my growler filled with ANY NUMBER of things: numerous craft beers, a few kombuchas, hard ciders. A whole new world of imbibing fun has opened up to me, me and my growler, thanks to that trip to the farmers market. Not so mundane after all.
For info about the South of the James Market, including vendors:
For info about other markets around the area: