By RCA President Colin Mills

In the middle of a rainy and dreary week like this, it’s
only natural to think ahead toward the weekend. 
I’m very excited about this weekend.  Not just because warmth and sunshine are
scheduled to make a reappearance, but also because one of my favorite Reston
traditions is getting started again: the Lake Anne Farmers Market opens for the
season on Saturday, and I can’t wait to go. 
There’s not a lot that can get me out of the house on Saturday morning,
but this is well worth the trip.
It’s hard to believe that the Farmers Market has been around
for 16 years; it doesn’t seem like that long. 
But the market, under the able supervision of my good friend John
Lovaas, has grown into a Reston institution, a place for the community to come
together and enjoy local produce, meats, and more.
Farmer’s markets and Reston go way back.  I remember the Reston Farmer’s Market on
Baron Cameron when I was a kid, across from the Pet-A-Pet Farm (today’s Reston
Zoo).  My family used to stop in there
from time to time to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables; the sweet summer corn
was especially delicious.
The best time of year to visit the Farmer’s Market, hands
down, was Halloween.  We always picked
out our pumpkins there, trundling the little red wagons among the rows of
beautiful gourds.  We went into the back
of the store to fill our gallon jug with apple cider (so sweet and delicious;
we drank it in the fall and I dreamed about it the rest of the year). 
And best of all, my sister and I got to climb Fort
Pumpkin!  This was a contraption
constructed out of hay bales and decorated with pumpkins, perfect for kids to
burn off some energy running and climbing while Mom was finishing up the
shopping.  When I reached the top of the
fort and looked out toward the horizon, even though I couldn’t have been more
than 20 feet off the ground, I felt like I could see forever.  Fort Pumpkin was my favorite thing about
Halloween, even more than the candy. 
(Okay, maybe tied with the candy.)
What the Lake Anne Farmers Market lacks in whimsical hay-bale
forts, it makes up for in diverse, delicious food offerings.  Sometimes, I’ll walk through and pick up
everything I need for lunch or dinner right there at the market. 
Maybe we’ll have Gunpowder bison steaks, fresh green beans,
and a salad with juicy tomatoes and goat cheese from Cherry Glen, dressed with
a vinaigrette from Wisteria Gardens.  Or
perhaps we’ll have sandwiches, sausage from Valentine’s on artisan bread from
Baguette Republic.  If I’ve got a sweet
tooth, maybe pick up something from A Bit More or Grace’s Pastries for dessert.  I love one-stop shopping for my meals.
Another thing I love about farmer’s market shopping is being
introduced to something I haven’t tried before. 
For instance, last year I tried ramps for the first time after picking
them up at the market.  Ramps are wild
leeks; they look kind of like scallions with big leaves on top.  I tried them raw and cooked, and I loved their
earthy, pungent, peppery flavor.  I can’t
wait to see what new discoveries I might run across this year.
I’m not the only one in my family who’s looking forward to
the market’s opening.  My wife loves to
shop there, and we’re both hoping that the selection will inspire us to add
more fresh fruits and vegetables to out diet. 
My daughter, meanwhile, is particularly fond of the Cherry Glen goat
cheese (she loves to eat it on Ritz crackers for a snack) and the black bean
dip from Wisteria Gardens.  If I go to
the market without her and forget to pick up the black-bean dip, I know she won’t
forgive me.
The market is more than just a chance to pick up tasty
locally-grown food; it’s also a great social opportunity.  You never know who you might run into at the
market.  Prominent Restonians like Bob
Simon and Ken Plum often stop by, and if you’re hoping to run into your
neighbor on Saturday morning, the market is a good place to look. 
The Saturday Farmers Market serves a function a lot like the
in Bob’s original vision of Reston; it gets people out of their cars and
interacting with each other.  I’m always
in favor of anything that foster community conversations, and the market
definitely does that.
I also love the fact that the market is held at Lake
Anne.  It’s our oldest village center,
and it’s still my favorite place in Reston. 
The Farmers Market has done a great job drawing people over to Lake Anne
who might not have gone otherwise.  I
think it’s no coincidence that Lake Anne has been on an upward swing since the
market got started in 1998.  And I’m also
really glad to know that the market will still have a home in the revitalized
and expanded Lake Anne Village Center that’s coming soon.
While you’re at the Farmers Market, it’s also worth stopping
by the craft market that takes place on the plaza itself.  That market features local arts and
crafts.  Walking through there makes me
think of a Middle Eastern bazaar.  It’s
well worth a stroll to see what you might find.

I hope you’ll be headed out to the Lake Anne Farmers Market
on Saturday morning.  And if you see me
there, checking out the produce or sampling the goat cheese offerings, stop by
and say hello.  We’re neighbors, after
all.  Bob would approve.