South of the James Market kicks off its sixth year on Saturday with over 100 vendors.
“It’s the quality of the vendors that we have [at the market] that makes it enjoyable,” said Karen Atkinson of GrowRVA, the organization that founded South of the James. “People have become accustomed to shopping this way.”
In recent years, Atkinson’s noticed that people are more discerning about what they eat. “People seem to be so much more interested in where their food is coming from,” she said. An increasing number of people support local farmers and vendors by buying food directly from them at markets. That’s one reason why Atkinson now estimates that approximately 4,000 people visit South of the James each week.1
New vendors this season include Old Church Creamery–which sells natural artisan cheeses, yogurt, kefir, as well as meat and Alchemy Coffee. The market will feature its first pickle vendors: Pickled Silly and Sweet. Sour. Salty. & Co. Members of the food truck collective, RVA Street Foodies, will also have a presence.
To increase accessibility to vendors across the region, GrowRVA has created a new companion market called Midlothian Mines Farmers Market. That market comprises about 30 vendors from South of the James, each of which will travel to the Millworks Development after South of the James ends and sell items from 2:00 – 5:00 PM each Saturday.
GrowRVA has also launched FeedRVA, a nonprofit extension of the company that will educate the public on healthy eating habits.
The South of the James Market is still the most popular farmers market in the city, but Atkinson is glad that so many others have sprouted across town. “When we first started six years ago…there weren’t all these opportunities” to buy local food, she said. “It’s been really neat to see the relationships between different farmers and folks evolve over the years.”
South of the James Market begins this Saturday and runs from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM at Forest Hill Park, 4021 Forest Hill Avenue.
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- Roughly 500 people attended the weekly market when it began in 2007. ↩
Photo by Sandy’s Dad