Sourcing Groceries Locally
The hashtags are everywhere… #eatlocal #locallysourced #localvore. Eating local has garnered a ton of attention and with good reason! Doing so supports the local economy and reduces your carbon footprint. You get food that’s more nutritious and arguably better tasting. It also gives you the opportunity to visit the farms where your food is grown or raised!
How do you go about buying your food locally? The reality is, shopping can’t be an afterthought. The good news is, it won’t be difficult either! Here’s a quick rundown of where you can get awesome local food in Fredericksburg!
CSAs ( Community Supported Agriculture)– This is probably the most well known way to get local produce. A CSA stands for community supported agriculture. It connects the consumer to the farm producing their food, through a seasonal subscription plan. In short, you pay for a seasons worth of produce upfront and in return, receive boxes of goods from the farm on a regular basis. Usually weekly. You do absorb some of the farming risk when joining a CSA, such as crop loss. Most farms have a game plan for when that occurs, however. For example, some will source goods from other farms to fill their CSA box requirements. If risk is a major concern for you, be sure to ask the farm what happens in the event of a drought, etc.
Not sure you can eat a whole CSA box? Most farms allow you to purchase a half share or split your week with another family. Don’t have the time to drive out to a farm? Many offer multiple pick up locations to make the logistics a bit easier. Afraid you may miss a week and all that food will be wasted? Some farms, like Miller’s Farm, donate all extra food or unclaimed boxes to a local food bank. Nothing goes to waste!
A common misconception is that CSA programs are for produce only. There are several that offer additional items to their CSA members, like unique experiences, eggs, diary, or artisanal goods. Snead’s Asparagus Farm, for example offers each CSA member exclusive opportunities like private pick-you-own berry days, and access to recipes that incorporate items from weekly CSA boxes. Miller’s Farm includes a product from their store in their CSA boxes. In the past, this has included items like coffee and ice-cream.
Think a CSA is right for your family? A few Fredericksburg area CSAs to check out are Snead’s Asparagus Farm in Caroline County, Miller’s Farm in Locust Grove, Blenheim Organic Gardens in Westmoreland County, and Willowlyn Farms Produce in Stafford.
Fredericksburg Area CSA Project- This unique corporative started 20 years ago and incorporates multiple local farms into one CSA. This allows their members to have more choices in their weekly boxes. It also give smaller farms the opportunity to benefit from the CSA business model. The only stipulation are that the farms must be local and either certified organic, or Certified Naturally Grown (CNG). “Our farms range from the urban gardens of Green Thumb Growers, located in Downtown Fredericksburg, to farms such as Hartland Natural Farm, which serves multiple markets.” CSA box pick up is currency held at Downtown Greens in downtown, Fredericksburg. CSA members take part in annual meetings, potluck dinners, and local volunteer opportunities.
Directly from farmers– We mean directly. Many small farms aren’t yet at a point where they can organize and run a CSA, nor do they have the manpower to staff a booth at the Farmer’s Market. If you don’t mind the occasional trip to the farm, you can buy eggs, meat, and produce directly on site. Imagine how awesome it would be to pick up your food right where it was grown or lived! That’s an amazing connection! Several farms that raise meat require you to pick up on site. If you are looking to source your meat, dairy, or eggs locally, this may be your best option. Earth’s Echo Farm, for example, is located 5 miles outside of downtown Fredericksburg and produces humane, sustainable, free range chickens and eggs. You must purchase eggs and meat on site, though they are open to arranging for delivery. Their eggs can also be found at Kickshaws Downtown Market.
Kickshaws Downtown Market – Buying local doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the grocery store experience! Per their website,“We offer the community not only the best in locally sourced, natural and organic products, we support our community by offering education, support and community partnerships to create a more healthy and sustainable Fredericksburg for everyone.” Kickshaws is located on William Street and offers everything from local produce, to local eggs, dairy, house-made baked goods and sandwiches, and even home brewed kombucha! Looking for something specific? Ask! The Kickshaws staff is knowledgable and eager to help.
The Olde Towne Butcher– Looking for a specific cut of meat or just want to talk shop with an expert? The Olde Towne Butcher in downtown Fredericksburg is where to go! It also happens to be walking distance to the Farmer’s Market and Kickshaws Downtown Market. You could make a whole morning out of shopping locally! In addition to local meat, the butcher carries “seafood, free-range eggs, seasonal, fresh fruits and vegetables, honey, seasonings, sauces, and marinades.” They also carry dairy products from Pennsylvania farm, Trickling Springs Creamery. Be sure to pick up a sandwich while you’re there!Olde Towne Butcher recently opened The Butcher’s Table, which offers sandwiches and salads with meat that’s smoked, roasted and ground daily.
Farmers markets– Is there anything better than strolling a Farmers Market, coffee in hand? Once this becomes part of your routine, you’ll be hard pressed to ever give it up! Farmer’s Markets give you the opportunity to meet members of area farms, local artisans, and socialize with members of your community. This is also a great place to pick up locally raised meat and eggs. Monrovia Farm in Westmoreland County, for example, produces beef that is humanely managed and harvested. Their meat can be purchased at Farmer’s Markets as well as on site. Downtown Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania County, and Stafford County all have robust Farmer’s Markets that meet from early Spring through late fall. Visit their websites for locations, events, and lists of participating farms.
Food Co-ops…almost- Fredericksburg is close to opening a food co-op! Per their website,“Our focus will be on locally grown and locally sourced products. We will offer a great selection of organic and natural foods and household products. As a member-owned cooperative, we will make decisions to maximize service to our members and our community. Our vision is to be a place to shop as well as a gathering place for people and ideas.” Currently, the co-op is shy of the 1,000 members needed to open. If you are interested in joining the Fredericksburg Food Co-op check out their website!
The Table at St. George‘s.- The Table offers lower income patrons the opportunity to pick fresh produce each week for their families, in a market-style environment. Donations come from St. Georgian community members, local businesses, The Rappahanock Regional Food Bank, and locally through The Flores Family Farm in Westmoreland County. “Veronica Flores is the farmer and she and her husband and children farm the 60 acre farm,” said social media volunteer Lisa Goulette Durham. “We buy fresh produce for them at wholesale. They often donate extra produce on top of that. They sell their produce at the Spotsylvania Farmers Market on Saturdays and a Prince William county Farmers Market on Sundays. Wonderful people. I visited their farm last year and it’s an amazing place.” If you’re interested in volunteering at The Table, or would like more information please check out their website.