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Farmers’ Market (photo courtesy Visit Alexandria)

Old Town Alexandria has another accolade under its belt: boasting one of Southern Living Magazine’s best farmers markets in the South.

The market in Old Town is acclaimed as one of the oldest ongoing markets in the country.

According to the magazine:

When it comes to longstanding tradition, the Old Town Farmers’ Market in Alexandria, Virginia, might take the cake. This Saturday market has been going on since 1753 and showcases local produce, meats, flowers, cheese, baked goods, plants, soaps, and more. It’s America’s oldest farmers’ market held continuously at the same site, and takes places year-round, rain or shine, with more than 70 vendors during the peak season.

The Old Town Farmers’ Market sits on the list next to the Charleston Farmers Market — another list grouping Alexandria with another port that draws in tourism with a very colonial-America downtown.

Alexandria wasn’t the only farmers market in the region to make the list, though. FRESHFARM Dupont Circle Sunday Market also earned a spot on the list.

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It’s a beautiful spring morning in Alexandria!

Today’s weather: Mostly sunny with a high of 72 degrees during the day, and cloudy with a low of 56 degrees tonight.

🚨 You need to know

Alexandria has been named one of the best places to visit, Patch first reported.

Money Magazine listed the city as a top destination, and called the city a “lux jumping-off point for D.C.-area visits.

According to Money Magazine:

Along the King Street Mile in Old Town, you’ll find charming cobblestone streets lined with lanterns, outdoor cafes, Instagram-worthy murals and trendy bars. There’s also a vibrant art community — explore the many galleries or peek in at artists at work at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

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Pat Miller, the founder and director of the Del Ray Farmers Market, accepts the 2023 Heart of Del Ray award on Feb. 10, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

The Del Ray Farmers’ Market was declared the winner of the Heart of Del Ray Award on Friday morning.

The award, which is an annual popularity contest, was voted on by more than 1,000 people, and founder Pat Miller was presented with a large red heart symbolizing the nonprofit’s place in the community. The award is always presented just before Valentine’s Day, which this year is on Tuesday, Feb. 14. The oversized heart will be hung outside in the square.

“It (the market) truly is a meeting place it is on Saturday mornings, rain or shine, warm or cold,” said Del Ray Business Association Board Member Gayle Reuter.

Now in its 27th year, the market is open every Saturday from 8 a;m. to noon at Pat Miller Neighborhood Square at the parking lot behind Virginia Commerce BankCheesetique and Let’s Meat on the Avenue.

“Thank you so much,” Miller said after receiving the award. “Del Ray is the best.”

The other nominees this year were Del Ray Artisans (2704 Mount Vernon Avenue), Del Ray Psych and Wellness (1900 Mount Vernon Avenue), The Dog Store/Your Dogs Best Friends (2301 Mount Vernon Avenue), Rosemont Landscaping and Lawncare (3308 Mount Vernon Avenue) and St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub (2300 Mount Vernon Avenue).

The Del Ray Business Association awards the Del Ray Farmers’ Market with the Heart of Del Ray award, Feb. 10, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

Previous Heart of Del Ray award winners:

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Morning Notes

Around Jones Point Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

New Compost Station Opens — “On Sunday, July 17, the Old Town North Sunday Farmers Market officially opened its Compost Cab compost station. The new compost station will be a permanent fixture at this year-round market, every Sunday from 10am-2pm.” [Zebra]

City Ranks as One of the Top U.S. Cities — “Readers of Travel + Leisure appear to have a favorable opinion of Alexandria, because the city made the top 10 of the magazine’s 15 Best Cities in the United States list… Alexandria was ranked eighth among big cities like New York City, New Orleans and Chicago on the national list.” [Patch]

Film Festival Submissions Open — “Calling all #artists and #filmmakers–Join us this November in @AlexandriaVA for the 4th Annual STEM Art & Film Festival at #IFoRE22. Now accepting submissions http://experienceIFoRE.org/stem-art-film-rt-film-festival #art #artstudent #artfestival #filmfestival #scienceart” [Twitter]

It’s Monday — Rain in the evening. High of 87 and low of 75. Sunrise at 5:59 am and sunset at 8:33 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Adrian Nicotra says you can pickle anything, but the problem is it’s harder to find new clientele since repeat customers buy out his pickled products because they have long shelf lives.

Last October, the 32-year-old bartender at Tiki Bar Del Ray launched his business Pickles And Cures, and is now working to get his products in area restaurants and farmers markets.

“You can pickle anything, literally anything,” Nicotra told ALXnow. “Pickling infuses flavor, and my products are perfect for foodies. They can go to town with it. You can take a cucumber along with the brine, and mix anything with it and it’ll just grab those flavors and infuse them.”

Nicotra has spent the last 15 years working at restaurants around the area. His products — cured meats and pickled vegetables and fruits — are put in clear, plastic containers.

“You can still see the beautiful brine and fresh dill and the garlic in the container,” Nicotra said. “If someone buys a couple $9 containers of product, they can sit on them and let let them just chill on the brine for months. My first customer in October still has her products in the fridge.”

Nicotra now plans on getting his products into the Old Town North and Del Ray farmers markets this summer.

Photos via Instagram

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On New Year’s morning, Luke Shlagel of Shlagel Farms was among a handful of vendors at the weekly Del Ray Farmer’s Market. Some customers asked why he wasn’t hanging out with his family and taking the day off, and he had a simple answer.

“If I hadn’t come on New Year’s Day, that would have been 20 days since the last market,” Shlagel said. “Christmas was on a Saturday, New Year’s Day was on a Saturday, and if I waited for the following Saturday, the eighth, that’s too long for the community to be without us.”

The Waldorf, Maryland, farm raises approximately 150 acres of fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy products and flowers through a variety of avenues. Their bread and butter has been a 29-year-long contract supplying vegetables to Giant Food with vegetables, followed by directly selling their products to consumers at half a dozen farmers markets in Maryland and Virginia.

Del Ray is their biggest market, and customers can pick up pre-ordered boxes or shop in-person every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. Getting to this point, though, took a lot of work. Farmers markets were not deemed essential in Virginia at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. Within weeks, though, Shlagel Farms was back in Del Ray with a new e-commerce site, and selling pre-ordered and boxed products for pickup.

“Maryland deemed farmers’ markets as essential, but not Virginia, and that hit us like a ton of bricks,” said Russell Shlagel, the company patriarch. “But now, thanks to our online sales, we have surpassed 2019 numbers. We were able to pivot, and we get emotional about it, how people said they needed us to supply them with fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat.”

More than half (54%) of Virginia farmers market vendors started or expanded an online platform after the onset of the pandemic, according to the Virginia Farmers Market Association.

“The COVID-19 pandemic had far reaching effects on farmers market managers, vendors and customers during the 2020 market season,” the association reported. “Amidst supply chain shortages and panic buying, farmers markets were deemed non-essential infrastructure by the state during the pandemic.”

Sales are good, but there’s a catch, Russell Shlagel said.

“Within the last year, fuel costs have gone up drastically,” he said. “Crop protected costs, fertilizer, and labor have gone up drastically.”

Luke Shlagel said he compiled a customer email list before March 2020 in Del Ray, and that the company was ready. After all, his mother, sisters and wife are all ER nurses, and they warned the family of what was coming. For many Saturdays after Covid hit, the vendor was alone at the Del Ray market.

“We has a notebook and we asked customers to jot down their emails for us,” Luke said. “Then it was unbelievable. All of a sudden we have more than 300 orders coming in, and all of a sudden I’m in the position of shopping for your family, making sure that the product that I’m putting in these boxes is the very best. Really, it was the support of the people of our people in Alexandria that made the whole thing successful and made it come together and work well.”

Via Shlagel Farms/Facebook

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Morning Notes

How farmers’ markets adapted amid pandemic — “Every Saturday, the Old Town Farmers’ Market, located at 301 King St., teems with people looking to fill their grocery bags and socialize with friends… A trip to the farmers’ market, year round and regardless of weather, is a natural part of the weekend for many vendors and consumers alike.” [Alexandria Times]

First Night events canceled in Alexandria due to COVID-19 — “The fireworks show will go on, but other First Night events are canceled.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Two Alexandria firefighters struck in hit-and-run incident — “Alexandria police are investigating a hit-and-run incident that left two firefighters in the hospital.” [Local DMV]

One Afghan woman’s struggle to resettle in America, help her fellow refugees — “She is now one of 12 Afghans working for LIRS full-time in a paid role from a new office space inside Lutheran Peace Church in Alexandria, Virginia.” [ABC]

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Morning Notes

Vacant lot in Eisenhower could become pop-up events and market space — “At 2425 Eisenhower Ave., there’s more than 18,000 square feet of open, grassy space. Until recently, the lot, which is owned by Rubenstein Partners LP, has remained unused except for the occasional dog romping with its owner. The Eisenhower Partnership is working with the site owners to bring fresh life to the lot by creating a pop-up space that could be used for food trucks, markets, arts, musical performances and other recreational uses according to a recent application filed with the City.” [Alexandria Living]

There’s a new mural in Old Town — “When Erik Muendel took over the ESP Tea and Coffee Shop at 1012 King Street, he not only revitalized the hip location with a new spin on the name and increased offerings, the wanted to make a splash on the outside as well.” [Zebra]

Catholic Charities plans café for Alexandria headquarters — “Catholic Charities USA filed an application to add a café in 2,088 square feet on the ground floor of its headquarters building located at 2050 Ballenger Ave. in Suite 400. According to the application, the space was formerly occupied by the Carlyle Club restaurant.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s weather — “Cloudy skies (during the day). Slight chance of a rain shower. High 81F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph… Overcast (in the evening). Slight chance of a rain shower. Low 66F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Personal assistant — “I am the owner of a luxury men’s clothing store and am seeking a personal assistant/IT adviser . You will not only be working for me but working with me towards a common goal. If you are a self starter with a ton of different talents and all you have been waiting for is an opportunity, this may be for you.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Animal Welfare League gets 50 cats from Texas shelters — “Among the lingering effects of the winter outages is the strain on animal shelters. According to AWLA, the Texas shelters are seeing a surge in surrendered pets. The animals come from eight animal shelters in Texas. By transferring animals to Virginia, these shelters can better address the continued needs of homeless animals.” [Patch]

School Board public hearing on renaming of T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School on March 18 — “There will be a School Board Public Hearing on March 18 at 5pm, where community members have their final opportunity to sign up to speak or submit comments about the renaming of schools.” [Twitter]

Police advise alertness as schools reopen Tuesday — “The remainder of ACPS students participating in hybrid, in-person learning head back to the classroom. Keep alert for kids walking, stop for kids getting on school buses, and slow down in school zones. Slow down, eyes up!” [Twitter]

Community meeting set for McArthur Elementary construction updates — “The Douglas MacArthur building at 1101 Janneys Lane is CLOSED! It is an official construction zone. Please do not utilize the playground or trespass on the premises. A community meeting will be held on Wednesday Mar. 25 at 6:00 via zoom with construction updates.” [Twitter]

Del Ray Vintage and Flea Market returning in April — “The Del Ray Vintage and Flea Market is set to return Saturday, April 10. Founded by Lauren Fisher and Amy Eggers in 2019, the market will occur monthly until December.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Cloudy skies early. A few showers developing later in the day. High 44F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%… Cloudy. Slight chance of a rain shower. Low around 40F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Pastry Chef/Baker — “Seeking a full time pastry and/or bread baker for high quality artisan bread and pastry company. We are looking for a creative self starter who has attention to detail and a variety of skills from cookies and brownies to cakes, ice cream, mousses, desserts and pies- laminating skills a plus but not necessary.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Beyer Says Trump Should Not Reject Strict FDA Guidelines for COVID Vaccines — “Political interference with vaccine development and an open feud with FDA can only further damage the public’s already growing safety concerns. Once again, lives may depend on Trump shutting his mouth and letting scientists do their jobs.” [Twitter]

Pizzeria Paradiso Closing in Old Town — “Like many restaurants in Old Town, Pizzeria Paradiso closed when the coronavirus pandemic reached Alexandria. Unfortunately, the beloved pizza restaurant will not be reopening, the owner announced this week.” [Alexandria Living]

Carlyle Farmers’ Market Today from 3-7 P.M. — “Free to the Public; Produce, Meats, Food, and Beverage sales are welcomed. What to Bring? Face Mask and your Social Distancing Etiquette.” [Facebook]

Lee-Fendall House Hosting Virtual Speakeasy Fundraiser — “Enjoy a night of speakeasy-style fun , without leaving your living room! Join us for this special night to support the Lee-Fendall House Museum’s vital work in historic preservation and education – one where you can keep on dancing, break out the booze, and have a ball.” [Visit Alexandria]

Alexandria Sheriff’s Deputy Reads ‘Lost And Found’ — “Chief Deputy Candra Callicott offers her encouragement to young students and the sweet story “Lost and Found” about a boy and a penguin.” [Facebook]

Alexandria Country Day School Hosting Virtual Open House — “ACDS’s small-size and ability to adapt quickly allowed us to open in September with in-person learning under a hybrid model. Join our Head of School, Division Heads, current parents and middle school students to learn more about our student-centered program.” [Patch]

Free Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinic on Saturday — “This clinic will be open to adults and adolescents age 12 and over, with a maximum of four people per vehicle.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s Weather — “Overcast (during the day). High 74F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.Rain showers in the evening will evolve into a more steady rain overnight. Low 63F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 70%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Alexandria Assistant City Manager for Public Private Partnerships — “As a member of the City Manager’s Senior Leadership Team, the Assistant City Manager for Public Private Partnerships reports to the City Manager and a Deputy City Manager and is responsible for leading the overall public private partnership (P3) initiatives for the City primarily via capital project planning and financing, leveraging of City assets and resources to implement City infrastructure and facilities, economic development related public sector and private sector projects, as well as facilitating the development and implementation of alternative service delivery strategies.” [Indeed]

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