A walk through the Fan on Saturday morning led me to the Monument Market. I’d been hearing promotional announcements about the reopening of South of the James market in Forest Hill Park and St. Stephen’s Market at Grover and Three Chopt. But, my sojourn to Robinson and Park Avenues was totally on faith. I hadn’t heard a peep about First Baptist Church embarking on a second year of hosting the farmers market since I posted a call to action of sorts, hoping to see more viable weekly market in the Fan. And on the day of, everyone in my Twitter feed seemed to be converging on Forest Hill Park, seemingly without much awareness of the other, often more local, options.
Even though it doesn’t look like the Monument Market’s Facebook page has been updated in almost a year, I’m sure I missed their press releases and broadcast messages promoting the opportunity to support hard-working artisans, farmers, bakers, and craft people. Surely, they wouldn’t invite them to an event without inviting the surrounding neighborhood to make it worth the vendors’ time. Well, I only counted 10 or so tents selling their wares, and the turnout during the hour I was there was scarcely more people than that. Awkward.
Just the same, there was a pretty good range of veggie stands, gardening/landscaping supplies, Aggriberry was there, Pizza Tonight… Visitors were mostly leaving with their arms full of newly purchased stuff.
Behind every good foodie, a graphic designer.
The picture above shows a new vendor, Atomic Bakery. Cupcakes are their specialty, but it was the chocolate chip cookie dough truffles that earned themselves a place on my wife’s Mother’s Day menu. Atomic only sells at markets, so even though the Fan seems like the perfect client-base for this operation, they can compensate for today’s light turnout with appearances at other markets.
Vendors, shoppers, market coordinators: Bee here now.
This was the biggest buzz, I’d heard about the market. A display of live bees captured Jasper’s attention. Once he got over his fear of being stung, I couldn’t drag him away from Cy Bearer’s bees. Bearer Farms featured a light and a dark honey, dictated by the type of flowers the bees pollinated. Personally, I think he should have been serving some kind of food that really shows off what good honey can do for dish. That would have lured me into buying some honey and asking for a recipe, especially since his bees babysat my child.
I would rather buy a pie than hear songs about pie in the sky.
Unfortunately, there still weren’t any coffee or hot food vendors, an element I consider to be an anchor for a farmers’ market. Folks I nudged to consider selling there lamented the lack of electrical power. But, here in this picture, it looks like the gospel bluegrass band is electrically amplified (it was certainly audibly evident). You could hear them from a block away and the sound kind of dwarfed the presence of the vendors.
During the warm months, I’m going to try to visit the Monument Market to support the vendors, but as of now Tuesday’s Byrd House Market just rose to the #1 spot in my list. Byrd House is now home to my Victory Farms CSA pick-up (they left Monument Market after a less than lucrative season there, I’m assuming), and it’s steadily growing without giving you that over-run Black Friday shopping experience that I dread at SOTJ. Hopefully, the people with decision-making power at First Baptist Church and the orchestrators of Richmond’s farmers’ markets will put their heads together, collaborate, and give the Fan the kind of farmers’ market it could so easily support.
UPDATE: The local community blog says “it was beat today. Where are all the vendors?”