It’s been a tough, dry season for vegetable grower Thomas White, of Blanch, North Carolina.
“I’ve had to irrigate my tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers,” White said while at the Danville Farmers Market inside the Community Market in the River District on a recent Saturday morning. “It’s been difficult. We want some rain.”
For Melanie Livengood at Walnut Winds Farm in Blairs in Pittsylvania County, wet weather at the start of the season posed a problem.
“We had a lot of early rain,” said Livengood, who grows cantaloupe, corn, tomatoes, cucumber and squash on about 25 acres. “We couldn’t get it planted early enough.”
Food sales at the farmers market have been steady, with growth in recent years because of more people living in the lofts and apartments in the River District.
“It’s grown a lot over the years in Danville,” Livengood said of the market.
Kenny Porzio, program coordinator for the market, did not know how many vendors were there Saturday, but said there were 65 the previous weekend.
“We are one of the bigger markets in the state of Virginia,” Porzio said.
There has been a farmers market in downtown Danville for at least 150 years, he said. It has been held at the Community Market at the Crossing at the Dan since 1996.
White and his wife, Louellen, grow fruit and vegetables at Louellen’s Farm in Blanch, where they also have buckwheat and crimson clover for the 12 hives of bees Louellen White raises. They grow their crops on about eight acres.
The Whites sold their products at the farmers market for about seven or eight years.
“It’s a good market for us,” Thomas White said. “It’s a great place.”
Bill Guerrant, who owns White Flint Farm with his wife, Cherie, in Keeling, said the recent Fourth of July festivities didn’t keep people away.
“We had a good crowd at the market, even at the holiday weekend,” he said.
Bill and Cherie Guerrant have been selling vegetables — tomatoes, squash, zucchini, garlic, potatoes, green beans — at the market on and off since 2005.
They also raise goats and chickens.
As for the season, spring was too wet and summer has been too hot, Bill Guerrant said. Last fall, with the flooding, was worse, he added.
Siblings Dylan and Kaleigh DiNoto, who own Kallan Farm on Berry Hill Road in southwestern Pittsylvania County, just began selling at the farmers market this year. They offer squash, green beans, zucchini, beets, cucumbers and herbs.
“We’ve been starting to get a customer base,” Kaleigh DiNoto said. “Getting our name out there is the most important thing for us this year.”
Farmers markets provide an opportunity for customers to interact with local growers face-to-face and learn more about what they’re buying and consuming, Porzio said.
The farmers market is limited to those who grow or make their own products.
“Being a growers-only market, it makes everything fresh and local,” Porzio said.
Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.