We’ve long known that locally raised, organic food is beneficial for both health and the environment, not to mention the taste buds! Yes, you can purchase organically grown produce at Kroger and Food Lion, but where did it come from? California? Chile? Wouldn’t it be fresher if it came from Union Hall? Although Kroger sells organic peaches from “The Peach State” of Georgia, the flavor can’t compare with homegrown ones purchased at the Westlake Farmers Market. Similarly, a store-bought tomato’s ripeness and juiciness pales in comparison to that of a homegrown one sold at a local market.
While there are no organic stickers on their produce, most of the local markets say their products are organically grown, without sprays or insecticides. “We don’t need a government label; we know how we grow it!” one market owner told me. Indeed, these are relatively small operations that don’t feel the need for certification.
Some of the regular shoppers at these markets actually don’t want word to get around, because once the vendors sell what they have, they leave— and thus might not be open for the full posted hours. “I go to the Westlake Market every Saturday,” says loyal customer, Carolyn Smith. “Don’t tell everybody else how good it is!” she exclaims.
Sorry, Carolyn, the word is out. Here is a list of outdoor markets in the Smith Mountain Lake area— get there early!
11059 Old Franklin Turnpike (Rt. 40), Union Hall
Hours: Monday–Saturday 9am–5pm, Sunday 11am–5pm. Closed Sundays in winter. Sells plant material year round; sells produce April through October.
- Produce is locally grown in three gardens on 25 acres onsite. Over 700 tomato plants, including heirlooms; also green beans, squash, heirloom lettuce, kale, cucumbers, zucchini and peppers (regular and hot).
- Corn, apples, peaches and grapes come from the local farmers’ co-op.
- Tomatoes, green beans, salsa and tomato juice canned locally at a cannery in Glade Hill are also sold.
“We do not use chemicals. All our items are organic, and a lot of the produce from the co-op is as well,” says Lakescapes owner, Tim Tingler. “People come to our market from as far away as Lynchburg and Roanoke.”
6318 Booker T. Washington Hwy., Wirtz
Hours: Monday–Friday 8am–6pm, Saturday 8am–5pm. Open March 1 through Thanksgiving.
- Produce grown here on the farm includes tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, beans, squash, melons, peppers, pumpkins, cantaloupes, eggplant, onions, potatoes and fresh herbs.
- Peaches and berries grown by the Beckners’ cousins are also sold here.
- They make canned food, baked goods and jams in an inspected kitchen.
- They sell local honey.
Beckner’s is a family operation that was started in 1999. All fruit and vegetables are non-genetically modified. Produce is not organically guaranteed but is grown with as little chemical help as possible. An electrified fence keeps out deer, or there would be much less to buy!
Westlake Farmers Market
Booker T. Washington Hwy. (Rt. 122), Hardy
Just south of Westlake Corner, between The Lake Inn and Smith Mountain Building Supply.
Hours: Saturdays, May– October 9am–1pm; Saturdays, November–April 10am–Noon Stands include:
Fruit and Vegetable Market at Westlake
- Large variety of vegetables: Squash, zucchini, peppers, corn, turnips, tomatoes (including heirloom and yellow), okra, sugar snap peas, green beans, cucumbers, onions.
- Fruit varieties include blueberries, cherries, nectarines, and peaches.
- Plants and cut flowers are available.
- Grower states pesticides are not used, but no “certified organic” stickers on produce.
Wawokiya Farm Pastured Poultry
- Locally grown heirloom tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and plants from Callaway.
- Non-GMO chickens (pesticide and chemical fertilizer free) $3.50/pound.
Wawokiya poultry is raised in an eco-friendly environment, fed farm-raised soybeans and corn with no herbicides, pesticides, or genetic modification. Chickens are raised on grass pasture instead of cramped quarters where antibiotics and hormones are used to prevent sickness and encourage growth. Wawokiya invites you to visit them any time.
Stone Soup Farm
- Free range chicken eggs, pullet eggs, duck eggs.
- A wide variety of vegetables, fruits and berries, low-sugar jams and jellies, dried herbs, pickles and salsa.
PICK YOUR OWN OPTIONS
It’s best to phone first to determine what is ready for picking. (No claims of organically-grown fruit or vegetables have been made by the following farms.)
Scotts Strawberry Farm
5234 Joppa Mill Rd., Moneta
Hours: Monday-Saturday 7:30am-7pm, Sunday 1-6pm Open mid-May through summer.
- Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, vegetables, local honey.
- Pick your own or already picked. Cash only.
1038 Capital Hill Rd., Huddleston
Phone or email for hours. Blueberry season can last through September; blackberries are ripe in July.
- Four acres of blueberries in 12 varieties.
- Pick your own berries ($4/pound) or already picked ($6/pound).
- Farm fresh eggs available all year ($4/dozen).
- Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and other veggies available in summer.
6817 Wheats Valley Rd., Bedford
Hours: Monday–Saturday 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
- Peaches, apples, strawberries.
- Wagon rides. ✦