The Eastern Shore of Virginia extends down from Maryland to separate the Chesapeake Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. The land between these two bodies of water is bursting with agricultural wealth. Everything from heirloom sweet potatoes to heritage raised meats and wild caught seafood is harvested on and around the Eastern Shore.
Get a taste of the local flavors for yourself and meet local farmers and artisans at one of the many farmer’s markets and produce stands that dot the 70-mile peninsula.
From spring to late fall, bustling farmers markets set up shop in small towns across the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Everything from kohlrabi to sweet corn to homemade bread and fresh seafood can be found at farmers market booths, not to mention handmade jewelry, art, bath products and artisan wares.
Chincoteague Island Farmers and Artisans Market
Tucked a few blocks away from Chincoteague’s downtown the Chincoteague Cultural Alliance’s farmers market gives visitors a taste of the small town life that makes Chincoteague special. In addition to local produce, shoppers will find baked goods, coffee, tea, potato chips, clams, oysters, honey and art. When it comes to produce the Chincoteague Farmer’s Market offers the every day to off the wall veggies like purple carrots, crab apples and every color of heirloom tomato imaginable. During peak produce season the market runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays to keep you stocked with fresh goodies all week long.
Onancock Farmers and Artisans Market
This weekly market fills the town of Onancock with life on Saturday mornings. A different entertainer serenades the crowd each week while shoppers browse booths of artisan wares, locally caught clams and crab meat, local honey, homemade Chinese specialties, fresh ground horseradish, fresh cuts of meat, eggs, baked goods, natural beauty products, jewelry and art. There is a special holiday market each year the last Saturday before Thanksgiving so shoppers can stock up on fresh produce for the holiday table.
Cape Charles Farmers Market at the Museum
Everything sold at this weekly market is produced within 50 miles of Cape Charles. That 50-mile radius contains a lot of bounty. Aside from fresh produce, you’ll also find gourmet foods like sauerkraut, French macaroons, jams and jellies, fruit popsicles and artisan bread. Local delicacies like seafood, homemade scrapple and sausage and barbecue are also on hand. After you’re done shopping check out the Cape Charles Museum to learn more about the town, the market is housed on the museum’s grounds.
There is nothing more relaxing than sitting on the porch of your vacation rental and shelling butter beans or shucking corn that you picked up from the local farm stand. Many of these operations are powered by family farms and they provide day to day access to local produce outside of farmers markets.
Some farm stands are really more like farm stores and will be stocked with pies, cobblers, local honey, wreaths and canned goods. Regardless of where you stop you can count on good conversation, deep local knowledge and a down home attitude.
Pickett’s Harbor Farms
You’ll find everything from spring asparagus to peaches, tomatoes, squash, watermelon, sweet corn, butter beans and blueberries in the peak of summer and kale, collards, cabbage, apples and sweet potatoes in fall and winter. Sometimes there will be a friendly face there to greet you, but sometimes you’re on the old-fashioned honor system.
From the first strawberries and asparagus of spring to fall fun, Shockley Farms offers a bounty of produce. Look for peas and new potatoes in spring and cantaloupe, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant in summer. They’re also known for their sweet, juicy corn and watermelons. Come autumn, there’s a corn maze, photo ops, pick your own pumpkins and the farm stand is decked out for all your fall decorating needs with painted pumpkins, ornamental corn and straw bales.
Sunnyside Garden Center and Farm Market
Whether you need plants for your own garden, fresh produce or a fresh Christmas tree or wreath, Sunnyside has you covered. In summer swing by the market for melons, peppers, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, squash, zucchini, peaches and sweet potatoes.
Copper Cricket Farm
Setting up a farm stand at the end of your driveway is an old Eastern Shore tradition. But Copper Cricket is kicking it up a notch. All of the produce at the farm is grown without pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers. In spring months look for greens, carrots, celery, broccoli, onions and herbs. Once the weather warms you’ll find tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squashes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes and snap beans. A return to cooler weather means a return of cool weather plants in the fall. Autumn months will see the return of carrots, greens and green onions.
Perennial Roots Farm
Whether you need berries for a cobbler or a cut of meat for dinner, Perennial Roots can help. They grow everything from lettuce to the wildest heirloom tomatoes you’ve ever seen. Their farm store is also stocked with non-GMO, organic eggs; homemade sausage and scrapple; cuts of heritage breed meats and, if you call in advance, you can even get rabbit. If you want to visit the farm stand call 30 minutes in advance so someone from the farm can meet you there.
Mason Beach Fruit Farm
Fruit just seems to taste sweeter when you pick it yourself. At Mason Beach Fruit Farm you can pluck plump, juicy blueberries right off the bushes. The farm office is also stocked with pre-picked apples, pears, apricots, plums and peaches. Bring a basket and a friend and you can go home with a big haul of blueberries for just $1 a pound. It’s hard to beat that deal at the grocery store. Be sure to visit in 2017, it’s the last year the farm will be open to the public.
Taste of Eden
Taste of Eden is one of the only produce stands on Virginia’s Eastern Shore that is open year-round. They stock local produce, jams jellies and breads and non-local staples like bananas and pineapples from a stand in the town pavilion.
La Caridad Farms
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and La Caridad can help you start your day right. Whip up breakfast in your vacation rental using their fresh chicken and duck eggs and you’ll be the star of vacation. If you’re feeling really adventurous, buy a whole rabbit and cook supper too.
Giving Tree Garden Market
From fresh herbs for the garden to local honey and fresh ground horseradish, Giving Tree is a great outlet for local produce on the way to Chincoteague Island. Their store is stocked with kitchen staples like fresh eggs and greens, but throughout the growing season, they also have turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, leeks, radishes and herbs.
Ricky’s Seafood and Produce
Whether you’re looking for local oysters and clams or fresh sweet corn and peaches Ricky’s has what you need. They’ll even season and steam your seafood for you so all you have to worry about is picking it up and spreading out some newspaper on the table at your vacation rental. They also stock a selection of jams, jellies and desserts.
Church Street Produce
At this indoor produce market, you’ll find fresh herbs, melons, berries, peaches, plums, sweet corn and tomatoes, but they’re taking it up a notch. The kitchen at Church Street Produce is cranking out triple berry pies, fresh baked cookies and brownies and a southern classic, tomatoes pies.
Roadside produce stands
Keep your eyes peeled as you travel U.S. Route 13 and the byways of the Eastern Shore. In the summer months, farm stands dot the highway, which serves as the main artery on the Eastern Shore.
Corner of Bell Lane and Lankford Highway, Machipongo
Corner of Route 13 and Occohannock Neck Road, Exmore
Corner of Route 13 and Wayside Drive, Painter
Next to BB&T Bank at 25386 Lankford Highway, Onley
25371 Guilford Road, Bloxom
Roughly 1 mile north of John Taylor Road on Route 13 northbound, Temperanceville
Behind T’s Corner on Chincoteague Road, Oak Hall
In front of Ruth’s Odds & Ends at 6278 Lankford Highway, New Church
Next to Worcester House at 3103 Lankford Highway, New Church
Pop-up farm stands
Not all farmstands have regular business hours and a 911 address. Some are nothing more than a wagon filled with strawberries in spring by the side of a field, a few shelves of tomatoes placed at the end of a driveway or an open trailer of apples being sold by the railroad tracks in fall. Many operate on the honor system and stumbling across them in your travels feels like uncovering a secret spot no one else knows about, so keep your eyes peeled as you travel Virginia’s Eastern Shore.