The COVID-19 crisis has affected many aspects of life across Virginia and across the globe, including dining out. Until breweries, distilleries, restaurants, specialty food stores, and wineries open their doors again for regular business, I’ll be profiling folks in the industry, telling you a little about them and what they do, and how the virus outbreak has touched their lives. I’ll also ask them to share recipes, tips, and tricks.
Amy Jordan, co-founder and co-manager of The Farmers Markets of We Dig Tidewater (which include Harvest Market at O’Connor Brewing Co. and Eat Beach Farmers Market, both in Norfolk) was a guest on The Virginia Eats + Drinks Show on April 10, 2020, sharing their story about survival during the outbreak.
Amy co-manages the markets along with her sister, Michele Ascher; they share all market management responsibilities.
“One of the reasons we love managing farmers’ markets is our dad grew up on a family farm in Indiana, and visits there throughout our lifetimes helped us gain an appreciation for agriculture and the lifestyle that goes with it. We’re happy to help farmers keep farming,” says Amy.
Amy also took time to be interviewed; here are her words:
VAEATS: When did the markets first open?
We opened our first farmers market, Hampton Blvd Farmers Market in 2018, but that was is currently closed until further notice due to COVID-19.
We opened Harvest Market in partnership with O’Connor Brewing Co. in 2019. We have just taken over the management of the farmers market in front of the East Beach neighborhood of Norfolk this season, and we renamed it East Beach Farmers Market.
VAEATS: Describe the markets?
We bring you all the best in local! Our markets offer locally grown produce, pasture raised meats, fresh eggs, local raw honey, scratch-made breads and baked goods, jams, sauces, salsa, cheese spreads and regional cheeses, fresh pasta, locally roasted coffee, farm-grown flowers, handmade soaps and body care products and more.
VAEATS: Name a few signature items at the markets?
Some store shelves may be bare, but our farmers and producers will have local eggs, meat, produce, bread and other staples for our customers all season long. We believe shopping in an open-air setting is the safest way for shoppers to get food for their families right now, and our drive-thru format we are utilizing at this time allows for social distancing.
Also, in these times, there’s no better way to get your food than directly from the farmer or producer, without being handled by others in between.
VAEATS: How has the COVID-19 virus affected your business?
With regard to farmers’ markets, the Governor’s order treats us much the same as restaurants. We can continue to operate in our open-air setting as long as social distancing protocols are put in place and we offer “take out” only–meaning no food sampling on site and no food is to be prepared or consumed on site.
This means some of our vendors who would normally be with us serving freshly fried doughnuts, made-to-order crepes, or popsicles cannot participate right now. So we are operating strictly as a drive-thru market until further notice.
Customers must pre-order with each vendor and pre-pay either over the phone or online, so there is no exchange of currency or credit cards on site. Vendors pre-package each order before arriving at the market, and vendors just drive through, stopping at any vendor they placed an order with.
We encourage customers to put a sign with their last name on the dashboard for vendors to see as cars approach, and we ask that customers pop their trunk or unlock their doors for vendors to place items in the trunk or back seat to make this a contactless market that is safe for all.
Because the church that hosts Hampton Blvd Farmers Market is closed, we are unable to hold markets there until further notice.
VAEATS: What are your current days and hours during the COVID-19 crisis?
East Beach Farmers Market will be every Saturday from 9 am to 11 am starting April 18.
Harvest Market will be every Sunday from noon to 2 pm starting April 19.
We will return to our normal walk-in market format and hours as soon as conditions allow.
VAEATS: Do you prefer customers to reach you online, via phone, or via third-party delivery?
Each one of our vendors is accepting their own orders and payments. We have posted vendor lists and ordering instructions on our website at norfolkvafarmersmarket.com or on our market pages on Facebook and Instagram. We also specify ordering deadlines for each vendor.
VAEATS: Do you offer pick up?
As part of Harvest Market, our partner O’Connor Brewing Co. is offering their beers and seltzers as products you can pre-order and pick-up during the drive-thru market!
VAEATS: Are you offering any specials like family meals? Provide as many details as possible
We have a vendor called Dogs on the Run who is offering a $25 “Family Fun Campfire Dinner Package” – includes 7 hot dogs, 7 buns, 4 bags of snack size chips, 4 campfire sticks, 8 large marshmallows, a sleeve of graham crackers, chocolate bars, and a 16oz mason jar of lemonade concentrate (which makes a gallon of lemonade), just in time for nicer outdoor weather.
We also have vendors wilth kettle corn, which is perfect for all the binge-watching folks are doing or family board game time. The cheese spreads from The Creative Wedge are also great for binge-watching snacks and go beautifully with a baguette from Gateaux Bakery. Pasta e Pani offers fresh pasta, sauces, Italian bread and entrees to take home.
VAEATS: Anything other information you want to share
Please support our farmers and vendors, as they rely on farmers market season income. This is time to let our local food system shine.
The farmers have planned for the season and planted their crops and raised their livestock in preparation for feeding Hampton Roads.
Our bakers and small batch makers don’t have as many people visiting their brick and mortar locations right now, and some don’t even have a brick and mortar locations and use the markets as their sole sales channel.
Without farmers markets, their businesses might not survive. Let’s not let them down.
RECIPE | MUSHROOM & KALE PASTA WITH GARLIC
12 ounces of your favorite pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil or 1/4 cup water/broth (for water saute)
3 spring onion bulbs or 1/2 medium onion, chopped
6 – 7 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 pounds (32 ounces) sliced fresh mushrooms (any variety you like)
5 ounces package baby kale or 1 bunch lacinato kale (julienned)
1/2 heaping teaspoon thyme, herbes de provence, rosemary or Italian blend
pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
mineral salt & fresh cracked pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups vegetable or miso broth (or chicken broth)
lemon wedges, to serve (optional)
Pasta: In a large pot cook pasta according to package (if buying fresh pasta at the market, as Pasta e Pani how long to cook it), drain in colander and set side.
Saute Veggies: In same pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, add onions and cook 4 minutes, add garlic, mushrooms and herbs, optional red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, cook over medium heat until mushrooms start to release moisture, about 4 – 5 minutes. Add kale and continue to cook until wilted (lacinato will take longer to wilt than baby kale).
Combine: Add the pasta to the mushroom mix, add broth, mix well and continue to cook until broth is just warmed.
Serve: Serve in individual bowls with some of the juices, top with fresh cracked pepper and a squeeze of lemon for brightness.
Serves 4 – 6
Add a few chopped sun-dried tomatoes for another layer of flavor.
Use spinach in place of kale if you like.
Add extra protein to this recipe by adding a can of cannellini or great northern beans, drained and rinsed, to the pot after adding the broth.
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