Farmer’s markets abound in 2010

A lively day at Marion’s farmer’s market.

The growing season has begun and farmer’s markets around Virginia begin to open this month.  A small-farm renaissance is making it easier to buy fresh and buy local.  Use the links below to learn more about the variety of offerings at farmers markets in Main Street communities.


April 17 – Nov
Tuesdays: 3 -7 p.m.
Saturdays: 7 a.m. – Noon
April – October
Wednesdays and Saturdays
May – October
Tuesdays: 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. 
Fridays: 3 – 7 p.m. 
Mid May – October
Saturdays: 8 a.m. – Noon
May – October
Saturdays: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
May – October
Saturdays: 7:30 a.m. – Noon
Last Saturday in May – October
Saturdays: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. 
Thursdays: 4 -8 p.m. 
April – Thanksgiving schedule
Tuesdays: 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Saturdays: 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Beginning June 3 add:
Thursdays: 4 – 7 p.m.
April – October
Year Round
Monday – Saturday: 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
May – October
Thursdays: 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. 
Saturdays: 7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
May –  October
Saturdays: 8 a.m. – Noon 
May  – October
Wednesdays: 6 – 10 a.m.
Fridays: 6 – 10 a.m.
Saturdays: 8 a.m. – Noon
May – October
Wednesdays: Noon – 5 p.m.
Fridays: Noon – 5 p.m.
Saturdays: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
April 17 – October
Saturdays: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Rocky Mount     
Year Round
Monday – Saturday: 6 a.m. – 5 p.m.
South Boston     
May – December
Monday – Friday: 10 a.m until out of produce
Saturday: 7:30 a.m. until out of produce
April – October
Wednesdays: Noon – 5 p.m.
Saturdays: 7 a.m. – Noon
April –  November
Wednesdays: 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. 
Saturdays: 7 a.m. – Noon
April 21 – September
Wednesdays: 3 – 6:30 p.m.
May – September
Fridays: 4 – 8 p.m. 
Saturdays: 9 a.m. – Noon

Blackstone featured as an escape destination in Washington Post

Downtown Blackstone was given the travel treatment by the Washington Post in Friday’s edition.  In her article featuring the Robert Thomas Carriage Museum, writer Becky Krystal toured the town and several other important assets, such as Schwartz Tavern and the Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center.

The Robert Thomas Carriage Museum has more than two dozen horse-drawn vehicles, including a Victoria, which the wealthy used for rides in the park. (Becky Krystal/The Washington Post)

The review: positive, and in important ways as well.  In her overnight visit she got a sense not only of the visitor sites, but of the solid work this Main Street community has been doing and where they’re headed. 

“There’s a fair share of vacant storefronts in this town of about 3,600,” she wrote, “but given its friendly residents and beautiful facades, the future holds promise.”

But don’t take her word for it:  use the National Park Service Historic Itinerary to plan your own visit to historic Blackstone.

Small Town and Merchant Program brings relevant resources to downtown merchants

Virginia Main Street continues the partnership with Virginia Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), bringing the Small Town & Merchant Program to traditional commercial districts.

In the workshop, “Staying Relevant to a Changed Customer,” retail expert Marc Willson positions the consumer in the recovering economy and provides real resources and information to help merchants retain existing customers and capture new ones.  He then provides one-on-one retail and restaurant check-ups, tailoring strategies for specific businesses.

Marc Willson brings  35 years of experienceto participating communities.  In 1975, Marc started his retail career as co-owner of the largest distributor of Earth Shoes in the U.S.  Since then he has held executive positions with retailers such as Britches of Georgetowne, Crown Books, Circuit City, The Bicycle Exchange, and Storetrax, Inc.  Most recently, he traveled to Dallas, Texas to open the world’s first energy efficiency store for Current Energy, LLC, a company funded by Ross Perot, Jr. Marc joined the SBDC in 2009 as a Retail Industry Consultant.

For more information on the program, designated Main Street communities should contact Virginia Main Street.  Other communities should work through the local SBDC.

Altavista’s first historic district

Altavista arose in the late 19th century, soon after the regional Virginian Railway extended an east-west line,  intersecting with the Southern Railway, a major east coast corridor.  The Lane brothers, realizing the commercial opportunity, purchased 2,000 acres at the junction, and proceeded to build Altavista and the Lane Home Furnishings from a fledgling cedar chest factory. 

Altavista is at a crossroads again.  Recognizing another opportunity, the town has leveraged its local heritage as an economic development tool, designating the first historic district in Altavista. 

Broad Street in Downtown Altavista

On March 18 the State Review Board and Historic Resources Board, both part of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR), approved Altavista’s historic district nomination for the Virginia Landmarks Register.  Next the nomination will be sent to the National Park Service for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.  Being listed on the registers makes the contributing properties eligible for historic rehabilitation tax credits, an important incentive for adaptive-reuse of older buildings and stimulating revitalization.

The historic district covers 14 acres of the central business district and includes commercial and government buildings and churches that reflect architectural styles representative of their respective periods from the early 20th century through to the 1960s.  Although there are no residential buildings in the district, the tax credit can be used for upper-story housing renovation.

Altavista On Track  (AOT) Executive Director Jo Kelley and Dan Witt, assistant town manager and AOT Design Committee chairman, partnered to complete the VDHR Survey and Planning Cost Share Grant, which helped secure a consultant and complete the forms,  photographs and mapping for the nomination.  Jo and AOT volunteers also helped to gather documentation for the consultant, Debra McClane. 

Congratulations to the Town of Altavista and AOT!

Hi ho the derry-o, the farmer has e-mail

An article in the April issue of Inc. Magazine prompted one more look at that thought-provoking Permuto Discoveries graphic.  We’ve looked at drugstores as a anchors on Main Street and at engaging downtown merchants in e-commerce.  Now we’ll look specifically at the food, wine, and beer category, with about 57 percent of sales being catalog, telephone, and online sales. (That seems high, but consider specialty – higher-priced – food sales, urban grocery deliveries, and online wine auctions.)

But what about the growing locavore movement?  Why would someone shopping locally turn to the Internet?  The answers are probably the same as they are for other products: convenience, product knowledge, and value. is working to provide these for the community of people for whom place and proximity matters when making food purchases.

The Web site can act as a virtual farmer’s market and a marketing tool for local farmers. And it can be used to support physical farmer’s markets and the growers who sell at them. (Check out Local Dirt’s diagram of how the Web site is used by consumers, producers and farmer’s markets.)

Worth Exploring: Main Street organizations have led the way in promoting downtown farmer’s markets as community convening points and district anchors, connecting residents to local food suppliers. Critical to that effort is helping the farmer reach consumers, sharing the story of their particular farm and product.  A Local Dirt profile could be a marketing and community-building tool to help them do that, both boosting interest in shopping from vendors at the farmer’s market, and  even giving farmers an outlet off-season for some value added non-perishables.  It’s not the only option out there, and your blog or Web site is a good starting point.  It’s worth exploring this season. 

Here are some other examples and tools for promoting and selling local markets and produce to help you start: 

Loudoun Flavor
Frederick County (MD) Virtual Farmers Market
Abingdon Farmers’ Market
Virginia Agriculture and Consumer Services

Congratulations milestone award winners

Nineteen communities received Milestone Achievement Awards or other special recognition at the Virginia Main Street 25th Anniversary Dinner and Award Ceremony on March 25 in Lynchburg. 

The 25 Year Club: Virginia Main Street’s Kyle Myer, Bedford Mayor Skip Tharp, Franklin Downtown Association President Victor Story, Winchester Old Town Development Board Member Dave Spence, and Virginia Main Street’s Jeff Sadler at the Milestone Awards.

Three communities – Bedford, Franklin, and Winchester – received special recognition for ongoing stewardship of their downtown commercial districts for the past 25 years.   A full list of award winners is available at:

Private Investment and Strategic Innovation
Volunteer Contribution, Building Improvement, and 25 Years of Main Street