Giving Thanks to Our Supporters

Last week I wrote five posts for local Patch websites about why farmers’ markets are important for the health of individuals and families, for the economic health of our communities and country, and for the preservation of our environment. I hoped to draw attention to markets in general in our area and to the valuable contribution they and their farmers and other vendors can make to our area. This week I would like to thank those people and organizations, public and private, who make it possible for Smart Markets to do what we can to serve you.

Our Reston market has been hosted by a series of generous hosts, most recently the Hartke familty at National Realty, and this year the Cassidy Turley property-management group at Reston Corner, as well as the building owner. Sandra McCrone and Troy Cramer are the staff members who are always there to respond with dispatch to our varied needs.

Farmer's-Market.jpgOn Thursdays, we are hosted by the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton on the grounds of the former federal prison where Julie Booth has done so much to support our presence and to reach out to the Lorton community on our behalf.

The City of Manassas Park and many of its officials, including Mayor Frank Jones and staff at the Community Center, have been great to us, even permitting me to store at City Hall some of the many boxes of canning supplies we received this year. They have also graciously offered to waive the regular fee for use of the kitchen at the community center so that we can offer canning classes to our shoppers and their residents free of charge.

At our Oakton market, we have been blessed to have been welcomed with open and helpful arms by Unity of Fairfax Church, where we have been for four years now. We probably would not be as successful as we are now without the generosity of our first host, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax down the road, and we owe thanks to Richard Hartley and Pete Clifford of Unity of Fairfax Church, who on their own approached the congregation about moving us to what everyone agreed would be a more visible location. We do miss Reverend Sandy (Butler) who resigned her post last winter and are looking forward to working with the new minister, Russell Hellend. And I really want to know who from the church is doing all the tweeting on Saturday mornings – it’s been a delight to see them having so much fun with their new toy at our “expense”.

Our other newer market is the result of a move from American Legion Post 176 in Springfield to the site of the old but soon-to-be-new Springfield Mall. The developer of the new Town Center is Vornado, and we have worked with Michael Lowe, Craig Milliken, Irene Gardner, and Kelly Gilfether, who reached out to me a couple of years ago. Everyone at Vornado, including the security staff on site, have been wonderful in helping us to adapt to an ever-changing environment so successfully that we are enjoying the busiest opening year ever.

And then we have our unique site at Piney Branch Elementary School in Bristow in Prince William county. As far as we know, we are the only farmers’ market on public school property in the state, and we have many people to thank for that–too many to list actually. Under the diligent guidance of Tiffany Minor at the central office, and working with PTO President Cathy Rivera, County Supervisor Wally Covington, and School Board member Gil Trenum, we managed to sign a use agreement for the site in record time to save our market that had been displaced on very short notice by our previous hosts. We continue to build our relationship with both the school and surrounding community and look forward to even more growth and interaction during this school year, as this is one of our year-round markets.

There are lots of other people whom I have forgotten to mention, but our staff and shoppers know who they are. Now you know whom you can thank if you cross paths with any of these people. We sometimes forget that Northern Virginia, as big and sprawling as it is, is still a community of individuals and families who pass through each others’ lives in many settings. It’s always nice to learn who is working behind the scenes to make your own life special.