Posts

Richmond farmers markets customer service

Richmond farmers markets

The truth about farmers markets customer service — plus recipes!

Last in a 4-part series on Virginia farmers markets
By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist:

(Part 1: Virginia Beach farmers markets)
(Part 2: Northern Virginia farmers markets)
(Part 3: Fredericksburg farmers markets)

As I was researching this series, I came across this from a shopper at a farmers market: “Enjoyed seeing the variety of pickles and beef truck. The soap vendor spent her time at the pickle vendor’s tent telling us what she thought we should purchase from him….not good. Would have enjoyed spending time ourselves talking with the pickle vendor.”

Yikes. Because there are so many different vendors at a farmers market, the customer service naturally varies from vendor to vendor, and sometimes it’s real hit or miss — like the poor pickle vendor, caught in a pickle that wasn’t even of his own making. (Sorry, I couldn’t resisit.)

How do you measure customer service at a farmers market? For me, it’s a combination of things: Friendliness, respect, knowledgeability, and responsiveness. I don’t want to be ignored, but I don’t want them to bug me, either. And what do you do if you get home and discover there’s a problem with something you bought? How do you get help after the sale?

Richmond farmers markets

The Richmond area is jam-packed with farmers markets. Here are some insights into the customer services on offer at a diverse selection from around the city, from big well-known markets to smaller neighborhood ones.

One thing these markets have in common is they’re all friendly (what farmers market isn’t?!), most are dog-friendly, too, and they’re all open at least one day a week this time of year. A few are open year-round.

South of the James Farmers Market is the big kahuna among Richmond farmers markets, with about 100 vendors in the summers. Folks who shop here say it’s exciting and entertaining. In between its Saturday market days you can reach the market managers by email and USPS snail mail.

Farmers Market @ St Stephen’s is small and stress-free with easy parking. They’re open on Saturdays. In between market days they offer an email contact on their website.

Birdhouse Farmers Market, formerly known as the Byrd House Market, is tucked away off the beaten path. It’s open on Tuesdays and considered a real find by loyal shoppers in its neighborhood. One unique customer service that they offer is a pop-up library. On their website they also offer a phone number! Another unique service. So you can reach the market managers by phone or email when the market’s not open.

Carytown Farmers Market is also a little neighborhood market. Customers like that it’s open on Sundays and surrounded by fun Carytown shopping. To get in touch with the market reps when the market’s closed, there’s an email address, a mailing address, and a contact form on the website.

Lakeside Farmers Market, open on Saturdays and Wednesdays, is praised for its wide food selection by the folks who shop there — which is at least partly a result of the market not requiring its vendors to stick to local food only. On its website, the market is open about the fact that they’re not producer-only, meaning that some of their vendors sell things they haven’t grown or made themselves, including foods grown way outside our region. Also of note: Of all the Richmond markets listed here, this one is the only one that prominently offers a one-week satisfaction guarantee — anything you’re not happy with you can return to the vendor who sold it to you the following week for a replacement, refund, or credit. There’s also an email address and online contact form to get in touch with the market managers between market days.

West End Farmers Market is open Saturdays and its managers can be reached by email when it’s not open. Shoppers who live in the West End love that this market is so conveniently close to home.

What happens to customer service when the market’s not open?

Most markets are super helpful and friendly during the few hours they’re open for business. But what happens if you get home, unload your bags of booty, and discover there’s a problem? Who do you contact?

That’s totally up to the market and the individual vendor. All the Richmond farmers markets listed here offer at least an email option for getting in touch with the managers. Many vendors make their contact info available, too, at their booths and online. But assuming they’re willing to give you a replacement or refund, you still have to go to considerable effort. To return anything, you have to return to the market along with the item you want to take back. If you don’t have the time or transportation to get back before their deadline, whatever that may be, you’re out of luck.

This is where an online farmers market like Seasonal Roots has an advantage. While Seasonal Roots is modeled on the farmers markets we love, the lack of customer service between market days was one thing we decided not to copy.

To start with, our farmers market online shopping is open all weekend, from 2:00 Friday afternoon till 11:59pm Sunday. So the available “open” hours when you can get your local food shopping fix are a lot more convenient.

We also provide farmers market home delivery at no extra cost. So you don’t have to go anywhere and that saves you time. Plus everything we deliver is guaranteed. If there’s ever an issue with anything, we’ll give you a replacement or refund, no problem.

To report an issue, we built in an easy way to do it on our website. (Near the end of this article is a description of how to report an issue.) It takes about a minute. After that, if a replacement’s in order, we’ll home deliver it to you along with your next order. If a credit is due, we’ll issue it pronto. Easy peasy. You never have to track down individual vendors or mess with trying to get in touch with market managers who often have other day jobs.

For any other questions or concerns, you can contact our dedicated support team of veggie fairies by email or phone (757-351-4565).

And one more thing… recipes!

Of course, most of the stuff you bring home from a farmers market or receive at your doorstep from Seasonal Roots is totally fine and ready to eat — and the sooner you eat it, the better. Fresh local produce is loaded with more nutrients and flavor than grocery store produce because it’s just days from the field, whereas grocery store produce is at least a week old, often older. The longer it sits, the more nutrients and flavor it loses. So it’s best to get busy eating!

To make it easy for you to do that, we include several recipes with every delivery and post them on Pinterest, too. We think that’s just good customer service. Check it out!

In the end, any Virginia farmers market that features local food is good for local farmers and food artisans. That’s our bottom line goal here at Seasonal Roots. As long as family farmers can make a living, we’ll all continue to have access to delicious, nutritious local food that’s good for us and good for the planet. So when you have the time, go spend a few hours at your local farmers market. For your day-to-day local food needs, there’s Seasonal Roots.

Either way, in-person or online, we’ll see you at the farmer’s market!

 

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

Fredericksburg famers markets

Fredericksburg farmers markets

Farmers markets: A summer treat; winter, not so much

Third in a 4-part series on Virginia farmers markets
By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist:
(Part 2: Northern Virginia farmers markets)
(Part 4: Richmond farmers markets)

On a sunny weekend, I love wandering past rows of beautiful fruits, veggies, and artisan fare at a farmers market, carried along by the energy of the crowd. At the one near my house, musicians are playing, artists are exhibiting, and there are lots of treats to sample. Most markets start up in the late spring as the first harvests get going. They boom in the summer and slow down again in the fall. Then over the winter, most disappear until the harvest seasons roll around again.

Fredericksburg farmers markets

The market scene in Fredericksburg gives you three farmers markets to choose from: Hurkamp Park Farmers Market, Mayfield Market, and Mary Washington Healthcare Market Express.

They’re all open-air markets. The Hurkamp Park market is open Monday through Saturday, its busiest day, and includes produce and baked goods.

The Mayfield Market is open Thursday afternoons. It specializes in flowers and plants in addition to produce.

The Mary Washington Healthcare Market Express is also open Thursdays, from late morning into the afternoon. It’s located on the campus of Mary Washington Healthcare.

Year-round availability?

The thing about farmers markets is that you can’t depend on most of them to serve as your primary source of groceries year-round. In Fredericksburg, only the Hurkamp Market is open during the winter, and even there, most of the vendors bow out until spring returns. That’s true for all the Virginia regions we’re covering in this series — the majority of markets close down over the winter, and at the ones that stay open the pickings get slim.

If you’re committed to eating local, that’s a bummer. After all, eating food that’s local, sustainable, and humane offers all kinds of benefits. It’s got more nutrients, more flavor, it’s better for the environment, and it boosts the local economy. That’s why a lot of people rely on online farmers markets like Seasonal Roots to meet their day-to-day food needs with home delivery year-round . They can hit the nearest farmers market when it’s open and they have the time, but they don’t have to depend on it.

Virginia winters are cold enough that filling any market with a variety of fresh, local produce is a challenge, no doubt about it. We can all get our hands on plenty of winter squashes, greens, and root vegetables but most people want more variety than that.

Some online farmers markets resort to offering produce that isn’t local or even regional or wasn’t grown sustainably, and they may not tell you where it’s from.

Not Seasonal Roots. During the coldest couple months of the year, what we do is offer regional produce in addition to local produce, with the source and location clearly labeled. While there’s no official definition for ‘local food’ or ‘regional food’, we consider food local if it’s grown or made within about 150 miles of where our members live. We call it regional if its outside that range but can still get to us within a day or so of harvest without flying. The rest of the year we’re 100% local, and we’re always sustainable and always humane. We’ve got a whole article on local vs regional if you want to read more.

A year-round farmers market like Seasonal Roots is more reliable for family grocery shopping, and for the farmer too. In addition to winter crops, our local farmers grow other kinds of produce sustainably in greenhouses. Their hens are still laying and their cows are still producing milk. With a little help from more southerly parts of our region, there’s always plenty of local food to get us through the winter.

But during the warmer harvest seasons, nothing beats an in-person farmers market when it comes to music, entertainment, friendly crowds, and yummy samples. There should always be a place in our lives for both kinds of markets, in-person and online!

 

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

Northern Virginia farmers market

Northern Virginia farmers markets

Farmers markets help you know where your food comes from

Second in a 4-part series on Virginia farmers markets
By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist:

(Part 1: Virginia Beach farmers markets)
(Part 3: Fredericksburg farmers markets)
(Part 4: Richmond farmers markets)

Do you know where your food comes from? It’s hard to figure out the backstory of anything you buy in a grocery store — even organic items from eggs to milk to produce aren’t always what they seem. The only way to know for sure is to get to know the farmers and food artisans who make your food.

Get to know your farmers & food artisans

Local farmers markets and online farmers markets like Seasonal Roots can help you do that. Sam, the Farmer Connector for Seasonal Roots, gets to know each farmer and food artisan personally. He visits their farms and kitchens and knows the methods they use to grow or make their local food. He makes sure they all rely on sustainable, humane practices that are good for people, animals, and the environment. Thanks to Sam, it’s easy for Seasonal Roots members to get to know each farmer and food artisan, too — while they’re shopping at our online farmers market, they just click on the vendor info that’s next to every item in the market.

In-person farmers markets that are “producer only” farmers markets give you a similar opportunity. “Producer only” means every vendor grows or makes the things they sell. No re-selling is allowed. An example of re-selling is when a vendor buys produce at a wholesale market, then takes it to the farmers market to sell it there. That kind of produce is almost never local and it’s almost impossible to figure out how and where it was really grown.

When you go to a producer-only farmers market, it’s a safe bet that the person standing there next to a mound of gorgeous produce or tempting pies had something to do with growing or making it. They’re either the farmer or food artisan themselves, or they’re a family member or friend or employee. You can stop for a chat, find out where they farm and what kinds of farming methods they use. To ensure their produce has the most flavor and nutrients, how soon after harvest do they get their produce to market? Are they environmentally friendly — are they low- or no-spray and do they conserve water? Do they treat their animals humanely — are the animals raised in pastures and are antibiotics avoided?

Local producer-only farmers markets, whether they’re in-person or online, give you an old school connection to your food that’s impossible to get at a grocery store. They give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing and trusting the people you get your food from, even in a big, impersonal metropolitan area like Northern Virginia.

Northern Virginia farmers markets

The Spotsylvania Farmers Market is the largest local farmers market in the region. They say that more than 60 vendors are out there every Saturday selling locally produced goods.

Another large local farmers market that proudly declares itself producer-only is the Dale City Farmers Market. Nearly 50 vendors set up for business on Sundays.

The veteran-owned, family-owned Long Sunday Market (formerly known as the North Stafford Farmers Market) is also open on Sundays and everything is locally produced. They’re also now hosting a smaller Wednesday market, so check it out!

The historic Fredericksburg Farmers Market offers three locations that feature family farms — one open on Saturdays, the others on Thursdays.

The Reston Farmers Market, open on Saturdays, has a history of focusing on nutritious eating and says it’s also producer-only.

The Herndon Farmers Market and Annandale Farmers Market are both open on Thursdays. Like the other farmers markets in this list that are sponsored by Fairfax County, they are strictly producer-only. Their farmers and producers all come from within a 125-mile radius of Fairfax County. They even encourage their food artisans to use local ingredients in the creation of their products as much as possible.

One final note: Most of these Northern Virginia farmers markets do not allow pets within the market area. Sad as it is, please leave furry family members who aren’t service animals at home — especially during the summer months when it’s just too hot to safely leave them in the car.

So if you want your food to match your values (and if you want to make sure you get what you pay for!), get to know your local family farmers and food artisans and buy local. Like we say here at Seasonal Roots: It’s all about food that’s good for you and good for the planet… from people you know!

 

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

Virginia Beach farmers markets

Virginia Beach farmers markets

Farmers markets bring communities together

First in a 4-part series on Virginia farmers markets
By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist:

(Part 2: Northern Virginia farmers markets)
(Part 3: Fredericksburg farmers markets)
(Part 4: Richmond farmers markets)

Here at Seasonal Roots online farmers market, we love in-person farmers markets. They’re our inspiration! In this series we’ll explore in-person farmers markets in Richmond, Fredericksburg, Northern Virginia, and the Hampton Roads/Virginia Beach area — communities that are lucky enough to have a local farmers market or two… or more! No need to Google “farmers markets near me”. We’ve got ’em right here. In this post, we’ll start with Hampton Roads.

Hampton Roads/Virginia Beach farmers markets

When you have the time, you can make a day of it at a larger market like the Virginia Beach Farmers Market. Over the course of 25 years, it has grown to include local and regional produce, a butcher shop, dairy store, bakery, organic grocery, wild bird store, seafood, florist, candy maker, specialty garden shops — even a restaurant.

“Next door” in the Virginia Beach/Hampton Roads area, the Newport News City Center Farmers Market offers a nice break from the workday. During the summer it’s open Thursday’s from 10-2.

The historic setting and live music at the Williamsburg Farmers Market make for a memorable all-day Saturday outing.

Same for the Portsmouth Olde Towne Farmers Market, which even sneaks in some educational and cultural opportunities by partnering with local museums and concerts.

The key to enjoying these local farmers markets, of course, is TIME. Getting in the car on the Saturday or Thursday the market is open, driving, parking, wandering the market, comparing what’s on offer, detouring to check out a kid-friendly vendor, stopping to chat with a farmer or neighbor or enjoy the live music… it’s fun but not exactly convenient.

Upsides, downsides & building community

Healthy eating has got to be convenient to make it a regular part of busy lives, and we’re all busy, right? For that, you’ve got Seasonal Roots, with farmers market online shopping and farmers market home delivery. Saves you tons of time and makes it easy to eat nutritious, delicious local food every day.

In-person farmers markets are time-consuming for the farmers, too. Markets like the one in Williamsburg require the vendors to make or grow the stuff they sell. The upside is, you know you’re buying real local food direct from the farmer, not mystery produce some guy bought at a wholesale market and hauled over to the farmers market.

The downside is, the farmer has to spend a whole day at the market. That’s a day they’re not plowing, planting, weeding, feeding, harvesting, or the thousand-and-one other things that farmers have to do. An online farmers market like Seasonal Roots is a much easier and more efficient way for local farmers to connect with local families.

Still, whether a farmers market is in-person or online, there’s nothing like it for bringing a community together. So join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. And when you have time, we’ll see you at the local farmers market!

 

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.

online farmers markets shopping how-to

Shopping How-to

Shopping your online farmers market is quick & easy

By the Veggie Fairy Team:

Here’s the step-by-step to help you place the order you want (or skip a week):

SeasonalRootsMenu main image resized new basket names

1. When your online farmers market is open, the first thing you see is the Market Page. Go to the top and choose a basket size. Each basket comes prefilled with seasonal produce – 5 choices in the Easy Basket, 8 choices in the Family Basket, 11 choices in the Veggie Lover Basket.

2. Next, make any changes you want by swapping items or filling a customized basket from scratch. (Guests, take note: As soon as you join and become a member, you’ll have the option to swap, too!) So you do it like this:

  • After you choose the best basket for you, check out what’s in it. Let’s say you don’t want green tomatoes. Click on the “Swap Item” button below the tomatoes and the picture will start rotating through several other popular items. Keep clicking till you see what you want.

swap button

  • But say you want even more choices. In that case, just fill your basket from scratch. Scroll down to the “Fancy a change?” line, and at the end of that line, click on “Customize it here.”

customize cu

  • That takes you to the full range of everything our farmers have ready for harvest. Click the plus sign (+) below the items you want until all the photo slots in the upper left are filled. Again, that’s 5 choices for the Easy Basket, 8 for the Family Basket, and 11 for the Veggie Lover Basket.
  • Once all the choices are filled, the “Update Order” button will appear in the upper right. Click on it and you’re done! (Unless you want to order Extras – read the rest of this post for more on that.)
  • You can keep changing your mind and adding and subtracting from your basket all weekend.

3. Need more info about an item? Click on the tiny round photo of it under its name. Want to know who grew it or made it? Click on the other tiny logo/people pic.

icon arrow

4. Once you’re done filling your Easy, Family, or Veggie Lover basket, you can also add Extras – just scroll down the Market Page. There are 5 category tabs in the Extras section: Bakery, Produce, Dairy, Artisan Goods, and Meats. To see what’s available in each category, click on its tab.

extras resized

5. To add an Extra item, click on the plus sign (+) below the item. As you add new items, a purple counter appears on the tab to help you keep track. (Guests, once you become a member you can add as many extras as you want instead of just one.)

SeasonalRoots plus minus 2

6. To add more of that item, keep clicking the +. If the + doesn’t light up, that means there’s only enough of that item for you to order one. If you change your mind and want to remove an item, click the minus sign (-) below that item.

7. When you’re all done filling your basket and adding Extras, scroll further down the Market Page. If you have a promo code, a.k.a. veggie fairy code, enter it and click “Apply”.

8. Then scroll down again to the very bottom of the Market Page and click the big green “Save And Review My Order” button. You must click it to place your order. If you don’t, your carefully filled basket will go POOF and your veggie fairies will never know it existed. Instead, they’ll deliver the original pre-filled basket, which will leave you disappointed, and that will make your fairies very sad. And there’s nothing sadder than a sad veggie fairy.

save and review 4

9. So let’s say you click “Save And Review My Order”… and then you change your mind. That’s okay! You can still make as many changes as you want until 11:59pm when the clock strikes midnight on Sunday night. To make changes, scroll down to the bottom of the Summary Page and click on the purple “Edit My Order” button. That will re-open your order, taking you back to the Market Page.

10. Just remember: Each time you re-open your order, always click the “Save And Review My Order” button AGAIN at the bottom of the Market Page. Otherwise your basket reverts back to the previous saved order.

11. Then again, maybe you don’t want to place any order at all. At the very bottom of the Market Page, underneath the “Save And Review My Order”, there’s a red “Skip This Week” button. Click it.

save and review - skip resized

12. You can change your mind about skipping, too. On the You Skipped This Week Page, just click the green “On second thought, I’d like to place an order” button to re-open your order and go back to the Market Page. But if, on third thought, you decide you really do need to skip this week after all, YOU MUST CLICK “Skip This Week” AGAIN.

13. So basically, every time you open the Market Page, click either “Save And Review My Order” or “Skip This Week” to make sure you get what you want!

ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.