Tracing the journey from farm to fork is a surefire way to learn about the essence of any place you might visit. Here in the Fredericksburg region, there are many entry points to exploring
This family-owned farm off Orange Plank Road in Spotsylvania County offers a “food and farm experience,” in the words of Jo Miller, whose son, Ben, has followed in his father’s footsteps in operating the farm. Here you will find pick-your-own strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, in season, and a market stocked with locally produced food products, from meat to dairy to baked goods and more. The Millers value the aesthetics as much as the quality of their food, and flowers, herbs and other decorative touches make this an enjoyable place to spend a day. Local families should check out the farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program.
Like Miller Farms, Braehead is a former dairy farm turned agritourism experience. Convenienty located within the city limits of Fredericksburg, here you can pick your own berries, in addition to other produce like peppers, greens and more in-season. The Braehead Kitchen serves lunch daily with dishes made from produce grown on-site. Braehead Farm Kitchen is open Daily. WEEKENDS from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM and WEEKDAYS FROM 11:00 AM TO 2:00 pm. A market sells meats, dairy, Braehead Farm honey, preserves, excellent pies and more. And a whole world of outdoor play awaits families in the farm’s backyard lot, where a hay barn, swings, corn bins, sand piles and the chance to pet goats and bunnies and see chickens, pigs, cows and horses provides an amazing experience without leaving the city. Braehead is also a dropoff point for the Snead’s Farm CSA.
Foodies interested in heritage breeds and low-impact farming will want to learn more about this grass-based farm in Falmouth, which takes a modern approach to many older methods of farming and offers an alternative to the large-scale, commercial livestock feeding operations prevalent today. You can schedule a farm tour by appointment, or look for Walnut Hill’s meats at area farmer’s markets and at the farm’s on-site market.
The Fredericksburg region is peppered with farmers’ markets that sell everything from local produce to prepared foods to jams, jellies, plants, crafts and more. Make these markets a weekly destination, and see how many you can visit this summer:
Hurkamp Park – Prince Edward and George streets - 7 a.m. until 2 p.m., Monday – Saturday (Prince Edward Street closes for an expanded market on Saturdays during the summer. Don’t miss this lively community gathering.)
Mayfield – Corner of Tyler and Dixon streets – 3:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. Thursdays May – October.
Gordon Road Commuter Lot – 12150 Gordon Rd., 22407 – 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 17, 2016. This is the biggest market in the region.
Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center – located in the parking lot of 4600 Spotsylvanig Parkway, 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sept. 7, 2016.
North Stafford Farmers’ Market – 101 Hospital Center Blvd., 22554 – 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 20.
Stafford Farmers Market Cooperative – 75 Staffordboro Blvd. (The Staffordboro commuter lot) – 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturdays.
Chesapeake Rockfish Tacos at Spencer Devon Brewing
This brew-pub in Downtown Fredericksburg is seriously committed to local ingredients. Owner Shawn Phillips has instructed the pub to purchase as much as possible directly from farmers, and he reports that about 80 percent of the restaurant’s dish budget goes directly to farmers. Beef steaks come from Monrovia Farm, lamb comes from Green Hill Farm and summer menu items like a Cuban sandwich with pulled pork from Schlund Family Farm all show that commitment. Fish is locally caught and vegetables come from local growers wherever possible.
“I believe relationships are critical and by buying direct, I get to establish those relationships,” Phillips says. “What that does for me and my guests is incredible. I visit the farmers, see how the products are being raised and know what sort of quality is making its way into my kitchen and ultimately onto the plates of our customers. It is a bit more costly, and our margins are not nearly the same as other restaurants, but it is worth it to me being able to look at customers in the eye as I serve them a plate and know exactly from start to finish how the ingredients got there.”
Spring offerings at this locavore favorite have included Snead’s Farm asparagus on most entrees, Snead’s Soup, made from the locally famous asparagus, and an array of other vegetables form Blenheim Organic Gardens (Kybecca is a dropoff point for Blenheim’s Community Supported Agriculture program.). With inventive combinations like an all-vegetable paella that doesn’t lack in flavor, this is inspired dining.
The kitchen here has evolved a lot in the time since this fun neighborhood gastropub opened. Expect to be impressed with their ability to take what’s in season and incorporate it into a menu that ranges from classic comfort food to more gourmet offerings.
When a restaurant changes its menus weekly, you know there’s a high possibility they’re using lots of local and seasonal ingredients. That’s the case at Foode and its sister restaurant, Mercantile, both in Downtown Fredericksburg. From greens to veggies to ground beef and even locally baked bread, these restaurants both know how to coax the best flavors from what area farms produce.
Other downtown destinations for local ingredients: Vivify, Bistro Bethem, La Petite Auberge, J. Brian’s Tap Room