Charlottesville Farmers’ Market is Back Saturday, April 2!

Spring is here! What better way to celebrate it than the return of Charlottesville’s legendary farmers’ market! The City Market re-opens this Saturday, April 2 in the Water Street parking lot one block parallel to the pedestrian Downtown Mall, at the heart of the city. If you’re new to the area, this is a great way to get the lay of the land in Charlottesville. The spirit of the city is encapsulated, in this community-driven exchange of goods and ideals, and it has been since 1973. If you’ve been wondering what the farm-to-table movement is all about, this will be a firsthand display. From 7 to noon every Saturday, over one hundred vendors will gather. They serve up more than just grassfed meats, handmade crafts, flaky baked goods, and fresh produce from a laundry list of farms in central Virginia….they offer a slice of life in Charlottesville, a gleaming portrait of the small-town-big city feel that makes this place so unique. This is your chance to come face-to-face with the food you love and the people who love to make it. In honor of the City Market, we’ve compiled a little list describing some of the vendors for whom we’re most excited.

Got Dumplings

If you’ve got a hankering for quick, hot, and fresh Chinese food at dynamite prices, check out this spot. They started as a food truck on Grounds at the University of Virginia, and recently opened up a location on some of the most prime Charlottesville real estate available…the historic Corner. Come for the dumplings…tender servings of meat ensconced in a crisp shell. Stay for the refreshing bubble teas or classic sides like fried rice and spicy kimchi. Bring me some if you remember.

Free Union Farm

A farm in Albemarle County, Free Union was started in 2010 by Joel and Erica, two people with a passion for food. Their philosophy is based on holistic livestock grazing techniques. The cows eat grass, clipping it short enough for ducks and chickens to access green shoots and insects. The ducks provide manure that is 90% water, rejuvenating the soil. Wash, rinse, repeat. You can’t argue with the results, especially when it comes to 100% grass fed and finished cows. This method of farming is highly sustainable, and highly labor-intensive. You can taste it, both at City Market and at notable Charlottesville restaurants like the Ivy Inn and Lampo Pizzeria.

Caromont Farm

Not long ago, this Albemarle farm in Esmont made headlines with an invocation for volunteers to come and snuggle with its kids (non-human). Caromont farm churns out more than just the cutest goats in the county…they also boast some of the finest cheeses in the area. Most of their cheeses are made with goat’s’ milk, like the flagship chevre, a creamy lactic cheese that they launched when they first started in 2007, or the native Esmontian, a semi-firm, enzymatic tomme that’s aged for at least 60 days. The farm also has a commitment to community. Its grass-fed cow’s milk comes from nearby, and the cider it uses to wash its semi-soft Red Row cheese is straight from Albemarle CiderWorks. Their philosophy is simple: good cheese comes from good milk, which comes from happy goats and cows grazing open land.

The Rock Barn

With its vaguely metropolitan atmosphere, it’s easy to forget that Charlottesville is a southern town…until you get a whiff of barbecue. Often, you can thank these guys for the free smells: the Rock Barn is a team of butchers committed to using the whole hog. They offer an $80 pork share and provide their tasty pork to multiple outlets in the ‘Ville. Check ‘em out at the Market, whether you want to cook up a batch of bacon for brunch or spend a few hours smoking a whole pig.

Marie Bette

One of the more unique vendors this year, Marie Bette offers authentic French fare that is both scrumptious and affordable. Take note: authentic, delicious, and affordable…usually the best you can hope for is two out of three. For a few months, Marie Bette was this writer’s “Place Down the Street,” a one-stop-shop for fresh baked bread, delicious coffee, and any number of breakfast, lunch and brunch offerings (also open on Sundays, phew). We’re talking quiches, baguettes, croque monsieurs, and flaky, buttery croissants. We can’t quite speak to what they’ll have at the City Market this year, but chances are it’ll be delicious.

Radical Roots

Established in 2000, Radical Roots is a family farm on five acres in Rockingham County. Like Free Union Farm, the folks at Radical Roots are committed to sustainable agriculture, using permaculture farming techniques to harness the land. They maximize the potential of their five acres by growing certified organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs. And it shows. Sometimes it just takes a sprig of fresh basil or cilantro to elevate your dishes to the next level.

Don’t miss out on the City Market. Consult this list of vendors for more information!