I like to shop locally, especially for food, because the produce is fresher, and it supports our local economy and farmers. Considering the popularity of the City’s farmers’ markets, I am not alone. Chesapeake deserves praise for setting up farmers’ markets at City Park and in Great Bridge and Western Branch. This is an excellent program. What more can we do to support our local farmers and entrepreneurs?
Our farmers’ markets shut down on November 22nd. While area farms and gardens are not as productive in winter months, farmers still have regional products to sell, including eggs, cruciferous vegetables, meats, poultry, and root vegetables. They may also have value-added products such as preserves and honey to sell. We also have residents like myself who want to access these products in the winter months. My suggestion is to develop an indoor farmers’ market, protected from the cold and wind, where local farmers can make these products available from November through the opening of the open-air markets in spring.
The winter marketplace could also encourage entrepreneurship by making space available for local artisans and craftspeople to sell their locally hand-made products. If strategically located, it could also serve as a welcome center to promote local and regional tourism, including Agritourism.
I value our environment. City Council can do more to help our farmers and conserve our green spaces. Approving Hickory Solar Farm would be a great start. Working with Chesapeake Small Farmers’ Coalition to avoid over-regulation is also important. The city should encourage Agritourism. Expanding and improving our farmers’ markets, including the development of a wintertime market, will prove the City’s commitment to Chesapeake’s small farmers, their families, and local entrepreneurship. Farmers shouldn’t feel forced to sell their property to developers due to farming becoming unprofitable. On my car there’s a bumper sticker: “No farms, no food.” Let’s support local agriculture so it continues to be available. Let’s treat our farms and farmers as an important resource, for this is what they are.