It’s a muggy Saturday morning in July and Christi Macomber is setting out fist-sized cinnamon rolls at her market stall. At a little after 9:00 am, the market has just opened for the day, but seasoned market-goers are already perusing and purchasing, their bags overflowing with Hanover tomatoes, grass-fed beef, potted herbs, cookies, and scones.
In addition to selling homemade baked goods as a market vendor, Christi also works as the farmers market manager, helping schedule vendors and live music acts to keep the market lively and welcoming.
“We are a medium-sized market -- not overwhelmingly huge, but big enough to be worth your while, with a great selection of products,” Christi said. “It's also a super friendly market. While some customers want or need to get in and out quickly, many plan a morning of it.”
The Ashland Farmers Market began in 1999 on Duncan Street but eventually moved to the vacant lot behind Ashland’s former Town Hall where it stayed for many years. When construction on the new Town Hall began in 2019, the market temporarily relocated to Henry Clay Elementary School’s parking lot.
Upon construction completion in 2021, the market happily returned to the heart of downtown Ashland directly in front of the new Town Hall. It’s an ideal location for community gathering with ample space, a stage for musicians, a grassy lawn and picnic tables for market-goers, and excellent visibility for visitors and cyclists seeking a taste of Ashland’s farm-to-table food offerings and vibrant and diverse small town culture.
“Our market is unique because it is a producers-only market -- no reselling is permitted. This means that the customer is buying directly from the person who grew or made that product,” Christi said. “We also remain ultra-local, with everything sold at the market being produced within 30 miles of Ashland, Virginia.”
While some vendors may sell a limited amount of craft items, the focus of the Ashland Farmers Market is heavily on food and agricultural products. At the peak of the season, the market hosts 15-20 vendors selling everything from seasonal fruits, vegetables, garden and landscape plants to honey, pastured meats and eggs, cut flowers, home-baked goods, pickles, jams, and jellies.
“The Ashland Farmers Market is such a special place,” said Kristy Severin, a Town of Ashland resident. “We love the sense of community we get on our weekly visits and meeting friends and family there. It’s always such a pleasure and comfort.”
Sponsored by the Town of Ashland, the farmers market is a division of the Town government, much like Carter Park Pool. Market vendors pay dues to the Town, and the Town compensates market staff and covers market expenses, such as signage.
“The Town supports the Ashland Farmers Market because it provides an additional healthy food source for residents, and supports local producers both in town and those nearby who also call Ashland their hometown,” said Matt Reynal, Assistant Town Manager. “The market also helps the local economy by attracting customers from all over the region who stop in our shops and restaurants after visiting the market.”
“I started out as a customer in 2003, became a vendor in 2009, and then market manager in 2016,” Christi said. “I love being a part of this farmers market because of the friendly vibe and great products. By now, I consider many of the vendors and customers a part of my extended family!”
Ashland Farmers Market takes place seasonally May-October on Saturday mornings from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm in front of Ashland Town Hall (121 Thompson Street). Seasonal and winter markets also take place throughout the year, including a Thanksgiving Market the Saturday before Thanksgiving, a Holiday Market the 3rd Saturday in December, and "Renegade Markets" every other Saturday throughout the off-season.
Learn more about the Ashland Farmers Market, its schedule, location, and how to become a vendor here.