“To Market, to market,
To buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again
Nestled in the beautiful countryside between Hanover and Fredericksburg, Virginia, is a special place for family fun, food, and peacefulness. Mt. Olympus Farm, located in Carmel Church, VA (1 mile North of U.S. 1 & Route 207) is a treasure of homegrown berries, fruits and vegetables! Rumors that this was a unique spot to visit were confirmed as I drove through the entrance. Rolling hills with fields of blueberries, blackberries, and the finale of the strawberry crop, greeted me under a glorious blue sky and gleaming sunlight. The owners, Mary and Ken West, welcomed me with smiles as we talked in the “barn” which was full of fresh produce, plants, local eggs and milk.
Mary took me to explore the fields of blueberries. Never had I seen blueberries growing… on bushes! Obviously, I am not a farm girl, only a “wanna be!” The colors and hues on the berries were spectacular! I plan on using those colors when I redecorate a room! Not only were they beautiful, but also the most delicious I had ever tasted! Nothing like fresh picked berries!
To satisfy my “inner farm girl,” I tried to ride the tractor! Just didn’t get much tilling done since it was the end of the day…maybe later!
As we strolled down the dirt road, past the strawberry fields recuperating from their harvest and picking, I looked to my left to see what I thought was a field of topiaries on vines. To my great surprise, the view was rows of blackberry blossoms. My memories of picking blackberries is wading through vines and bushes, avoiding stickers, picking the luscious deep black/violet berries and popping them in my mouth. That was not the case here. I was awestruck with the architectural style of these bushes, wrapped around wire, looking as if they were purposely designed to create a patterned floral sculpture. There were two varieties, the small and the very large berry, soon ready to be picked for market.
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Further down the road, Ken showed off his new field where they are experimenting “no tilled” farm land. It is now covered with hay and small shoots of tomato plants rearing their heads to the sunlight soon to be picked in August.
The “Garden Center” is full of varieties of herbs, vegetables, annuals and perennials. Mary and Ken like to grow “what others don’t.”
The “Produce Stand” also has many varieties of seasonal vegetables. Bags of dried peppers hang from the ceiling, reminding me of the egg casings in the movie “Alien,” though much prettier! They bring in other quality local products such as eggs, milk, cheese, honey and meats.
Not only does Mt. Olympus sell “down on the farm,” but at many Farmers’ Markets in Northern Virginia. Check their website for additional locations (www.MtOlympusFarm.com).
There is still lots of time to “Pick Your Own” blueberries, till the end of June; blackberries, from mid-July – late August; tomatoes/peppers/ eggplant from early August –Mid September; and, of course, pumpkins and Fall veggies in September and October. Christmas trees and wreaths complete the season until the greenhouse opens again the following April of 2010. Call ahead to check on picking conditions, as they may be “picked out!”
Look for the recipes, baked goods and fresh cold milk…loved the chocolate!
Farmers Markets are all over the state of Virginia offering lots of family fun, relaxation and a slice of good ole’ Americana! Go to www.local.com to find numerous Farmers Markets throughout Virginia, such as St. Stephens Farmers’ Market in Richmond, VA (www.saintstephensrichmond.net/Market.html); and Five Points Community Farm Market in Norfolk, VA (www.5ptsfarmmarket.org)
Experience the joy of feeling, smelling and tasting wonderful fresh food grown in a true labor of love celebrating agriculture and tradition. Shop early for the best choices; bring a canvas bag to carry home your loot, and maybe a cooler if you are making a day of marketing. Don’t forget sunblock, water, and your smile!
Many thanks to George Kartis for his fabulous photos of Mt. Olympus Farm!
‘Til Next Time,