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Strawberry season is ready to break out; farm markets to open

By Mary Reid Barrow

By Mary Reid Barrow

strawberries
By Mary Reid Barrow
Virginian-Pilot correspondent
The wait is almost over.

Juicy red strawberries are just around the corner.

Brookdale Farm on Mount Pleasant Road in Chesapeake predicts it will be open the first weekend in May for pick-your-own berries.

Lilley Farms on Tyre Neck Road in Chesapeake and Cullipher Farm in Virginia Beach are hoping for that too.

Cullipher Farm hopes to have some pre-picked berries from their organic berry field by the end of April. Also available: asparagus and all the fixings for a spring salad, like spring lettuce mix, kales, spinach and Asian greens. Top them with a vinaigrette flavored with green garlic tops – all from Cullipher’s.

Their first batch of dandelion greens sold out right away, but they expect another harvest of those in a couple of weeks too.

With all the delicate spring produce, especially strawberries, it’s best to check your favorite farm’s Facebook page before you drive out to shop or pick your own. A cold night or too much or too little rain can slow things down.

OPENING DAY

The first weekend in May could be a big one for locavores. Not only should strawberries be front and center, but May 2 is the day many Saturday morning farmers markets around Hampton Roads open for the season.

Mostly local fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, flowers, condiments and the like can be found at these markets. The markets also are a great place for shoppers, their kids and dogs.

Here are some May 2 openings: LF Market in Suffolk and Portsmouth Farmers Market, both with hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Farmers Fare at East Beach in Norfolk, Onancock Market on the Eastern Shore and Old Beach Farmers Market, with hours from 9 a.m. to noon.

Five Points Community Farm Market at Church Street in Norfolk also opens two Saturday satellite markets May 2.

One is St. Paul’s Downtown Farm Market, in the parking lot of historic St. Paul’s Church at St. Paul’s Boulevard and City Hall Avenue. The market will be open 9 a.m. to noon with music, pop-up shops and local farmers on hand.

The other is Five Points Mobile Farm Market that will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Tidewater Gardens neighborhood.

All of St. Paul’s market profits go toward food vouchers to help bring fresh food to Tidewater Gardens residents who have no access to a nearby large grocery store.

The 2015-16 Food Guide of Buy Fresh Buy Local Hampton Roads hits the streets Monday and should be showing up in places like libraries and recreation centers through the week. Guides also can be found online: www.buylocalhamptonroads.org

The guide to local producers and restaurants that strive to serve local food will be officially introduced at the Old Beach Farmers Market on May 2. Visitors can sign a pledge to spend $10 a week on locally grown food raised by Virginia Farmers.

Pledge-signers will then be able to make a button proclaiming they are a locavore.

If every household in Virginia spent $10 a week on local food, more than $1.5 billion would be kept in the state in a year to support local economies.

To reach Mary Reid Barrow, send e-mail to barrow1@cox.net. You also can follow her blog at hamptonroads.com/maryreidbarrow

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