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Twenty-One Years of Freshness

The Herndon Farmers Market has been providing locally grown goods for more than two decades

For 21 years the Town of Herndon has been bringing fresh produce to the downtown area during its annual farmers market, held every Thursday on the 700 block of Lynn Street.

Throughout the year, a variety of items can be found such as brocolli, lettuce, corn and tomatoes, as well as meats, breads, salsas and plants.

The Town of Herndon's Community Forester John Dudzinsky, who serves as the market master, said that as the seasons change so do the items, which keeps the market busy each week.

Soon items such as winter squash, pumpkins, apples and cider will start to appear just in time for the fall season to begin.

Dudzinsky said that although there is no official count for the number of people who attend the market each week this year has been great, he said.
 
"It starts slow until people finally realize that the market's open. Then it starts to pick up," Dudzinsky said.

Beginning the first Thursday in May and running until the last Thursday in October, Dudzinsky said he believes most people choose a farmers market because everything is fresh.

"Most of these guys pick this stuff the night before or even two days before," he said. "They limit the amount of pesticides that they use and some don't use pesticides at all."

Dudzinsky said he enjoys the market not only because it helps to support local farmers but the customers really seem to like it, he said, referring to it as a "social stop."

He added that the market is a great way to bring business to the downtown area such as Great Harvest Bread Company at 785 Station St.

"There's definitely a noticeable increase in traffic," said owner Tim Groszkowski. "The market definitely makes an impact on the traffic here in downtown Herndon and it's nice. It makes it feel alive."

Groszkowski said he's glad to own a business so close to the market. Not only does it help with his store but it also allows for his employees to stop over and see what's fresh on the stands.

The market features 12 vendors including Fertile Plains Custom Pork, Hutt Produce, Grace's Pastries, Gypsy Hill, J&W Valley View Farm, Mt. Olympus Berry Farm, Blue Ridge Gardens, Poppy's Gourmet Cookies, Reid's Orchard, Salsa las Glorias, Santa Cruz Produce and Sweet Valley Farm Dairy.

Vendors are located within a 125 mile radius of the town and grow, raise or produce the products they sell at market.

Jimmy Scates, of Hutt Produce, who's been with the market for 20 years, says he enjoys working at the market because it allows him to deal directly with the customers while bringing them good, fresh produce.

"We have a full line of vegetables. We have cantolopes, watermelons. We have everything. 'Course half of it's gone by now," he said.

Vendor John VaSice said he's been with the market for about seven years where he sells plants that he grows from his home in Berryville. In a wheel chair for 24 years, VaSice said it has given him the opportunity to keep himself busy.

"For 15 years I've struggled trying to do something workwise and then I realized I liked to grow plants," VaSice said. "I started in the Winchester-Berryville area and eventually migrated down this way. It keeps me out of trouble and it gives me something to do."

VaSice said he loves the Town of Herndon, including the people who live in the area. Unfortunately most of his plants won't be in season much longer but he said he'll definitely be back next year.

That's great news for people like Herndon resident Laura Richer whose been coming to the market for a number of years. "We try to come at least once a week," Richer said. "The peaches, the tomatoes, it's all good. And the banana bread. The banana bread is our favorite."

Richer said she prefers going to the farmers market rather than a regular store because it's fresher and it's a chance to support local farmers, she said.

Her son, Joey, said he enjoys going with his mom because of the ice cream store just next door.

But not all of the markets customers come from within Herndon. Gayle Hanlon, who lives in Fairfax, said she was spotted the market on her way through town. Corn and watermelon being her favorites, Hanlon said she'd prefer to get her fresh produce from a local farmer than in a regular store. "I always like to buy local produce," she said.

Herndon's Farmers Market is held every Thursday from 8 a.m. to noon and will run through Thursday, Oct. 27.

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