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To Market, to Market: Warrenton


A deal on Romas from St. Anthony's Farm; an impressive array from Sue's Pies & More; conveniently sized delicata squash from Waterpenny Farm. (Bonnie Benwick -- The Washington Post)

The Saturday farmers market in Warrenton, in business since 1975, is downright neighborly. Located in a parking lot at the corner of South Fifth and Lee streets, it calls itself a “Virginia-grown” market; that means producers can help out small local family farms throughout the commonwealth by bringing their goods to sell as well.

The vendors vote on the length of the season (this year, through Nov. 28) and appoint a head vendor on site, for the times when the market manager can’t be there.

This weekend was one of those days, as market manager Mickey Rhoades was participating in a community yard sale in Culpeper.

Saturday’s market had a low-key vibe; about 14 vendors were on hand for the 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. session, although a total of 36 are registered for either this one or the town’s Wednesday market that sets up a few blocks away.

The vegetable stands still had a fair amount of sweet corn and huge cantaloupes, although shoppers seemed more interested in the apples and okra and perfectly sized delicata squash (from Waterpenny Farm in Rappahannock County). Waterpenny’s tomatoes, thoughtfully arrayed by type on a rimmed table, were at high-season prices ($3.60 per pound), although tomato deals lay just ahead from St. Anthony’s Farm. Pleitez Produce of Westmoreland County had boxes of lovely sweet potatoes and an astonishing amount of jalapeno peppers. Basil, thyme and herb plants that had shot up while still in small pots were going for half-price ($2).

Jeff Adams of Walnut Hill Farm in Falmouth is the market’s sole meat vendor, with coolers of lamb and beef. I bought some summer sausage ($6.50 per pound; a guilty pleasure), coarse-grained and pleasantly sour-sweet, that should last a while.

Dream Keeper Farm was selling its soap and lotions made from goat’s milk; Salsa Las Glorias offered samples of fresh red and green salsas, mild and hot; Sue’s Pies & More of Warrenton offered a taste of its last peach pie of the season, along with blackberry crumble and a fine-looking lemon meringue; Bluerose Farm of Amissville had eggs from ducks and heritage breed chickens.

The busiest tables belonged to Agria Caporuscio of St. Anthony’s Farm in Amissville. Folks call her Regina, and love the loaves of Italian bread she bakes and brings each week along her peppers and tomatoes. “I’m proud of that recipe – been working on it for years,” she said. Her bread is rustic and chewy, especially great for toasting.

I spied a hefty box of her unblemished Romas, marked $15. “That’s the right price,” she confirmed. “Must be 20 or 25 pounds. The way I look at it, if you buy it, that means I won’t have to can ‘em. Believe me, I’ve done enough of that already this year!”

Sold.

-- Bonnie Benwick

By The Food Section  |  September 14, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  To Market, To Market  | Tags: Bonnie Benwick, farmers markets  
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