Spring is not only the season of flowers but the time for the reopening of all of FRESHFARM Market seasonal markets. This week, we reopened the last of our farmers markets: Crystal City, By the White House, Ballston and Annapolis. In each of these locations, FRESHFARM Markets is working in partnership with an organization or local government agency to develop, manage and market our farmers markets.
Our partnership with the Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) began in 2009 when we opened the Crystal City FRESHFARM Market after a survey of the BIDs constituents found that farmers markets were one of the most demanded services. They also fit nicely with the BID mission to change perceptions of Crystal City as a place to live, work and recreate. After operating their own market for a year, the BID recruited FRESHFARM Markets to take over the market. According to Rob Mandle, Chief Operating Officer of the Crystal City BID, “FRESHFARM Markets achieves our mission in a strategic way providing a strong experiential component to Crystal City. Due to construction, the market moves this year and we’ve relocated it nearer the Metro as a resource for our office workers who are going home and residents who are coming home.”
FRESHFARM Markets most high profile partnership is with the White House and The First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS). We opened our FRESHFARM Market, By the White House market in September of 2009, the year Michelle Obama created and planted her garden. We worked with her office, and a large committee of federal and city government officials as well as the White House press office, to choose and secure a site for our farmers market and to plan the opening ceremony. On the appointed day, Vermont Avenue between H and I Streets, NW was sealed off and all of our farmers and FRESHFARM Market staff were obliged to pass through security controls. A stage and press gallery was erected on site and a crowd of over 3,000 people braved a dreary, rainy day to celebrate local food with the First Lady and FRESHFARM Markets. Michele Obama famously said that day, “This market is about more than just the opportunity to provide good food. It is also about our communities. And this is just the beginning of the conversation.” Yesterday’s reopening of this market continued this connection as White House chefs joined us to ring cow bells in celebration of our fourth season. Participating with them were a multitude of our other market partners from elected city officials to Veteran’s Affairs directors to representatives from the Downtown Business Improvement District.
At our market in Ballston, Virginia, we are beginning our second season. Located in Welburn Square, directly opposite the Metro entrance and adjacent to a major bus transit center, this market is popular with office workers as well as Ballston residents. Our partner, the Ballston Business Improvement District (BID), recruited FRESHFARM Markets to come to this community that is at the epicenter of “the creative class” as it boasts the highest concentration of science and technology workers in the region. Tina Leone, Executive Director of the BID calls our joint efforts in Ballston “the best partnership around.” She adds “People here anticipate the seasonal opening of the Ballston FRESHFARM Market. The market is growing this year and we are confident that it will be even better than last year.“
In Annapolis, FRESHFARM Markets works with the city council chaired by Mayor Cohen. When the market opened in 2008, we worked with the city office of Economic Development to choose a site. As a result, the market is located in prime real estate, right on the busy harbor and on the site of the historic Annapolis farmers market. This historic connection is signaled by the large Marion Warren photograph banner hanging at market that shows residents shopping at this same exact site in the 1950′s. Maria Broadbent, Director of the Department of Neighborhood and Environmental Programs, sums up the benefits of this six year partnership, ‘The Annapolis FRESHFARM Market farmers market is just the right fit for Annapolis. Having a farmers market downtown allows us to further the goals of the Sustainable Annapolis program, encouraging residents to buy locally grown and raised food, while making the freshest ingredients available to residents right at the City Dock.”
In short, while farmers markets appear to be simple affairs, the actual creation and management of these weekly “pop ups” involves a complex network of community partners who are key to FRESHFARM Markets’ success in creating vibrant “new town squares” at every one of our market sites. Partners, we salute you!
~Ann Yonkers, FRESHFARM Markets Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director