Farmers’ market opens for season

Published 11:07 am Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Auctioneer Gene Daniels sells boxes of broccoli to bidders at the Southeast Virginia Farmers Market in Courtland on Thursday. SUBMITTED

COURTLAND—Robert Martin wasn’t disappointed when he snagged a nearly full bushel of squash for $5 during his first visit to the Southeast Virginia Farmers Market in Courtland.

“I’m really impressed by the prices,” said the owner of Rascals Pizza in Chesterfield. “It’s neat they do something like this.”

Martin joined others on the market’s first night of the season Thursday. The auction behind Food Lion in the Southampton Business Park begins at 6:30 each Thursday and runs for about two hours, said Manager Mike Marks.

“I think it will be a good season,” Marks said.

The market is owned by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and managed by a private company.

Produce and flowers are typically auctioned by the bushel and half bushel, which allows visitors, like Clementine Hall of Virginia Beach, to buy in bulk for canning or freezing.

“I came out to shop because the produce is so nice out here,” Hall said.

It’s already been a good season for Hunter Harris of Belcross Farms in Camden, N.C.

The mild spring has allowed Harris to harvest squash, cucumbers, potatoes, beets and green onions earlier than usual from his 26-acre farm.

“I’ve been picking for about three weeks now,” he said.

Harris is holding out hope for a strong season despite recent rains.

“If it’ll stop raining right now and warm up, we’ll be going about 100 miles an hour,” he said.

Elizabeth Burgess was visiting the market for the first time.

“I’ve been through here and enjoyed it, but wanted to see more,” said the 88-year-old from Franklin. “I love it. I think it’s marvelous.”