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F.C. Farmer’s Market Celebrates National ‘Favorite’ Recognition

marketGLast Saturday the Falls Church Farmers Market celebrated its big national win, a first place in the medium size market category in the second annual national American’s Favorite Farmers Market contest.

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Leading in the celebration Saturday were (left to right) Director James Baird, American Farmland Trust’s Mid-Atlantic Director; Councilmember Ira Kaylin; Mayor Nader Baroukh; Charley O’Hara, Chairman, Advisory Board of Recreation & Parks; Howard Herman, Director of Recreation & Parks and Farmers Market founder; U.S. Congressman Jim Moran; Commissioner Matt Lohr, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Councilmember Lawrence Webb; Va. Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple; Vice Mayor David Snyder; City Manager Wyatt Shields and Va. Del. Jim Scott. (Photo: Barbara Gordon, City of F.C.)

 

Last Saturday the Falls Church Farmers Market celebrated its big national win, a first place in the medium size market category in the second annual national American’s Favorite Farmers Market contest.

The celebration included comments from many notable local and national representatives, including Rep. Jim Moran, F.C. Mayor Nader Baroukh, State Del. Jim Scott and State Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple and Matt Lohr, a state Dept. of Agriculture commissioner, and Charley O’Hara, chair of the F.C. Rec and Parks Advisory Committee. The award presentation was made by James Baird, Mid-Atlantic Director of the American Farmland Trust (AFT), which ran the national contest.

The AFT, a national organization dedicated to saving America’s farm and ranch lands while promoting healthy farming practices, received thousands of votes for its various contestants.

F.C.’s Rec and Park Director Howard Herman was singled out for his seminal role in the founding and nurturing of the F.C. Farmers Market from 1984 to the present.

His recognition included comments by City Manager Wyatt Shields at this Monday’s City Council meeting, who noted that on Oct. 2, Herman celebrated his 40th year of employment in the City’s Rec and Parks department. In the 40 years, Shields said, Herman has never once called in sick. Shields credited Herman with taking the idea for a farmer’s market from then Mayor Carol DeLong and “running with it.” This has included the extension of the weekly Saturday morning market from the summer months, only, to a year-around event three years ago.

Herman entered the Falls Church Farmers Market into the prestigious contest. “I manage the market including handling the recruitment of producers for the market, publicity for the market, registration for the market, and the day to day enforcement of market rules.” In essence I handle all aspects of the market,” Herman told the News-Press. In fact, the market has become so popular under his guidance, that 20 to 30 prospective vendors have to be turned away every year.

According to the AFT website “the purpose of the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest is to spread the “No Farms No Food” message and to raise national awareness about local farmers markets, the role they play in supporting local farms and food and the importance of local farms and farmland to our communities.”

“No Farms No Food” is a message created by the AFT to remind people of the ongoing threat to farms and ranches, the majority of which are currently in the dangerous path of development.

“The contest is important because it raises awareness of the need to preserve farmland and to support locally grown produce. It’s also important for what it does to help promote the City and the Falls Church Farmers Market,” Herman said.

In order to solicit votes for the Falls Church Farmer’s Market, Herman utilized the City website and released contest announcements in the local media. Staff members manned booths at the market for five straight Saturdays in July and August encouraging customers to cast their votes for the much loved Falls Church market. Signs adorning the lobby of the Falls Church Community Center also helped spread the word of the contest. People were actually able to cast their votes at the community center itself.

The AFT listed the Falls Church Farmers Market in the Medium category of the competition as defined by market size. Four separate categories grouped contest participants. Market size is determined by the number of vendors at each market. The size brackets included boutique, consisting of 15 or fewer vendors, small, 16–30 vendors, medium, 31–55 vendors and large ones with over 56 vendors.

As the voting came down to the wire, Shields noted Monday, the highly-competitive Herman monitored the count on the AFT website constantly, and when it looked like another entry, one from Lewes, Delaware, was gaining ground in the voting as the midnight deadline neared, and came within 70 votes of the lead, Herman jumped onto his computer and phone to scare up 300 more votes at the last minute, despite the late hour.

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An official winner’s plaque was unveiled at the Falls Church Farmer’s Market this weekend. (Photo: News-Press)

The Falls Church Farmer’s Market currently boasts approximately 45 various vendors, allowing selected vendors from within a 125 mile radius of the City of Falls Church to participate.

“A person can buy almost everything they need to prepare their meals at the Falls Church Farmers Market. For example, one can purchase bison, steak, lamb, pork, chicken, eggs, milk, sausage, coffee, vegetables, fruits, bread, crab cakes, honey, salsa, wine, cheese, pies and ice cream at the market. One can also purchase plants, flowers and soap,” said Herman.

In addition to managing the market, Herman is also a vendor himself, selling golden honey.

There was one winner in each of the four categories. The markets are named America’s Favorite Farmers Market by the AFT. Each of the winners received a farmer’s market promotional package to help their market grow.

The package included a special logo for the exclusive use of the winning markets, an event honoring the market, national press release announcing the winning markets and 500 tote bags with the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets – Falls Church Farmers Market and the “No Farms No Food” insignias to give away to customers.

Also included was an outdoor banner to hang-up in the market, up to $500 of printed promotional tools from the AFT printing partner “igreenprint,” $1,000 worth of graphic design for a new flyer, logo, web element or other project and 200 copies of the AFT magazine American Farmland with a feature story on the winning markets.

“It feels great to win the award. From this day forward the Falls Church Farmers Market will be known in the local and national farmer’s market circles as America’s Favorite Market in 2010. It is a logo and moniker the City will be able to use as promotional material forever,” said Herman.

The Falls Church Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from 8 a.m. – noon in the parking lot of City Hall (300 Park Ave., Falls Church). It is sponsored by the Recreation and Parks Department.

 

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