I wait all winter for the summer to arrive. Not just because it’s warm and I can head to the pool. No – it’s those wonderful, fresh fruits and vegetables. I can smell the corn and taste the tomatoes. The best place to find good summer produce is the local farmer’s market. One of the best in DC is the Ward 8 Farmers’ Market located at the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus at 1901 Mississippi Ave SE.
The Ward 8 Farmers’ Market is a seasonal open air market offering fruit and jam from an orchard in Pennsylvania, vegetables from Virginia and Maryland, pasture-raised meat from an Amish farm, and produce from THEARC’s garden. You’ll enjoy all of the free food samples.
One of the things that set the Ward 8 Farmers’ Market apart from other local farmers’ markets is your ability to speak to a nutritionist who is on-site to answer questions and share information about how best to cook and serve the food items. This is particularly important in Ward 8 in light of the study conducted a few years ago finding that Ward 8 had an adult obesity rate over 40 percent and a diabetes rate of about 18 percent. One of the original purposes of the Market was to help change unhealthy eating habits.
The Farmers’ Market began after Safeway, which was Ward 8’s sole full-service supermarket, closed in 1998. This obviously hindered residents’ ability to shop for groceries. It also meant that many in the community would probably rely on corner stores, which largely sold canned and processed food and little fresh vegetables and fruits. This situation would be exasperated for residents without a car. Local residents decided a farmers’ market was a good solution to this problem. In August of 1999, the Ward 8 Farmers’ Market was created and was open to the public.
In addition to the Farmers’ Market being a response to inadequate healthy food choices in Ward 8, it represents a self-empowerment tool. The Market has been described as “a community and local farmer based grassroots market”.
If you live in Ward 8, it just got much easier to visit the market. There’s a free circulator bus which will make key stops throughout the Ward when the Market is open. The bus makes an eight-stop loop circle about once every 20-30 minutes. It’s a great way to conserve gasoline and get to the Farmers’ Market for free. When you see blue and white the canopies blue, you’ll know you are there.
The Market’s season opens in early June and continues every Saturday until Thanksgiving. It is open from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. So, there’s still plenty of time to get there. You can be one of the 200 to 300 people who pass through every week.