I’d never really seen anything quite like it. Imagine hundreds of people, dozens of dogs and babies, tons of deliciously enticing smells and the creeping sense that there isn’t enough money in the world to satisfy all of your cravings. That’s the farmer’s market on the Downtown Mall, and that’s how I spent my Saturday morning.
The Charlottesville City Market is a producer-only market of farmers, food vendors, crafts and artisans, held on the Downtown Mall from April to December every Saturday since 1973. More than 100 vendors sell anything from clay pottery to Alaskan sockeye salmon to handmade soaps to cold-pressed juices. There’s a whole stand to fulfill any and all of your locally-grown mushroom needs — North Cove Mushroom! — and if you want handmade pierogies, Grandmother’s Pierogies is located at block C-24. Basically if you want it, you can find it.
Somehow, my friend and I managed to eat a lump Maryland crab cake sandwich, a chorizo/feta taco, fresh-squeezed limeade, raspberry lemon and brown-sugar homemade pop-tarts, Bolivian peach tea and a bagelini (a bagel panini). Most to all of the food is locally produced and reasonably priced, and there’s an insane amount of variety. The vendors are friendly and some are even willing to bargain on price! It was heaven, and just two miles down the road.
The farmer’s market is a Charlottesville and U.Va. legend for a reason. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re really into clockwork jewelry or stone-ground oatmeal or barbeque pork, and it is so accessible to all students. It can be a bit overwhelming at first — there are so many people and even more incredible options. I went in with a $20 bill, expecting to spend half at most, but was very easily coerced into buying an adorable succulent, those poptarts and the taco. And do I regret it? Not even for a second.
It was also a blast to feel like a real part of the Charlottesville community, even just for one morning. Our school can feel, at times, like a bubble within this vibrant, bustling city, and there was something special about seeing grandparents and strollers and families. Think about the last time you even saw someone under the age of 18 or over the age of 65. It got me excited for a future in which I could wake up after a work week and grab my dog and my baby to get some homemade doughnuts. I mean, how charming does that sound?
For anyone with a free Saturday morning, I can’t recommend this experience enough. Start your weekend off right, pick up some fresh flowers and a doughnut and enjoy every second of it.
Next week I’ll be exploring some of Charlottesville’s hiking trails! Stay tuned.