Let me start by saying that I am falling in love with my new routine here. And a large part of my weekend routine is going to the West End Farmers Market on Sunday mornings.
Rave: Located in Ben Brenman Park, right off of Duke St near the Cameron Station neighborhood. It's only about a five minute drive from my apartment. By bike it's about 15 minutes, depending on the stop lights. So there's a huge plus there. There is a much larger farmers market in Old Town on Saturday mornings, but sometimes I'd rather avoid the commute down Duke street. It's really hit or miss, but when the traffic is bad it can ruin the whole post-farmers market do-gooder feeling. And after all, isn't the idea behind a farmers market to buy local? So I'm happy to stay closer to home.
There's about 15 different stands, at least one of each type you'd find at any larger farmers market. (Just off the top of my head) There's 3-4 produce stands, 2 bakery stands, 2-3 unique jewelry stands, 2 floral stands, 1 coffee stand, 1 fresh orange juice stand, 1 homemade wooden furniture stand, and a couple of odd artsy stands. I've been to this farmers market three times now, and each time I'll walk take a lap around each to see what the selection is, but it's inevitable that I'll end up at the same produce stand because they've got the best looking stuff. Depending on when I last went grocery shopping (which this week was yesterday, so I didn't need a ton of stuff today) I'll pick up peppers, tomatoes, apples, peaches (if they've got them magically out of season), and sometimes squash. I've never been disappointed with a produce purchase. Always fresh, ripe, and delicious.
But by far my favorite part of the West End Farmers Market is the flowers. Specifically, the one floral stand with the two nicest flower guys I've ever encountered. First off, they had a single rose to almost every girl walking by. Even if you aren't stopping to look at their products, he's there handing you a rose as you walk past. Second, they have the most beautiful sunflowers ever. I bought some from them at my first trip to the Old Town farmers market; they were beautiful and lasted a full 10 days before I had to thrown them out. So today, I go to grab a small bunch of sunflowers; I hand them to the guy to be wrapped up, and he grabs a huge bunch of wild flowers mixed with more sunflowers and adds it to my original selection. "I'll add these in for free. They'll look great together," he says. So, I happily handed him $8 for the original bunch, took my now very large bouquet and headed on my way.
I don't know the names of the flower guys, or even what farm/shop they are from. But if you're ever at an Alexandria farmers market, head for their stand - you won't be disappointed.
Scathe: Only one minor complaint about the West End Famers Market. They don't have brussel sprouts (which I love). And neither do the grocery stores. So I've got to start heading to the Saturday morning Old Town market for those.