Culpeper Downtown Farmer’s Market worth a trip

Every week from the last Saturday of April through the Saturday before Thanksgiving Holly DeBernard and her boyfriend Chris Blue will load up a truck and travel from Fredericksburg to the Culpeper Downtown Farmer’s Market.
DeBernard, 20, said she is happy to make the trip.

“This is my third year,” said DeBernard, the daughter of C&T Produce owners Craig and Traci. “I drive back and forth each week here, but we do about 30 markets a week, most of them in Northern Virginia. This is, however, my favorite by far.
“It’s small and the people here are really friendly. This market is more about socializing instead of just getting in and getting out.”
The Culpeper Downtown Farmers Market is sponsored by Culpeper Renaissance, Inc. It is the longest running market in the Culpeper area, beginning in the 1950s at Culpeper Agricultural Enterprises. In the early 1990s, the market moved to a Main Street location and finally to its present site near the Depot.

“My parents have been involved here since 1991,” said DeBernard. “After three years I know a lot of regular customers and it’s good to see them again after a long winter.”
DeBernard is a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, studying nursing, biology and Spanish. She is on schedule to graduate in 2016.
“I grew up on a farm in Stafford County and live on a farm in King George County,” she said. “I love farm life. I never want to live in the suburbs. You are just too close to everybody.”

The Culpeper Downtown Farmer’s Market has more than 30 vendors this season. It features locally grown produce, herbs, flowers, farm fresh eggs, baked goods, locally raised beef, pork, lamb, poultry and much more.
“Culpeper Renaissance’s goal is to enhance community life in downtown Culpeper by bringing residents and local growers together in a market setting that is friendly, fun and packed full of quality local products,” said Trez Holmes, CRI president, in a news release.
DeBernard is convinced.

“This is a real cultural experience,” she said. “You get exposed to a lot of things. A lot of people don’t know how stuff grows. After living on a farm and working at farmers markets, I know more about vegetables than anyone would want to know…how to grow them, how to cook them, all kinds of things.”
DeBernard said one of her favorite aspects of the farmers market experience is “that you get to experience fresh food.”
Ashleigh Speicher would agree.
“My mom comes here, but this is my first time in Culpeper,” she said. “I love all the fresh food. I am definitely buying some herbs and strawberries today.”
DeBernard, who has two younger sisters, said eating fresh food is very important to her family.
“When we’re not sitting around the table for a meal, we’re thinking about food,” she said. “My dad is a third generation farmer. My great grandfather came from France.”

However, DeBernard said sadly, she will probably not be continuing the family tradition.
“There is so much work for so little money,” she said. “And I love nursing. If there was a way to make both happen (nursing and farming) I would definitely do it, though.”
DeBernard said she and Blue, 20, roll into Culpeper about 6 a.m. on Saturday’s.
“The challenge is trying to get everything set up before the customers start arriving at 7:30 a.m.,
she said.

The market stays open until noon.
“Our site in Culpeper is relatively easy compared to some of the other places we go,” DeBernard said. “We just park the truck beside the tent, unload, set up and are ready to meet all the friendly people. We love it here.”
For more information on CRI or the Farmers market visit: www.culpeperdowntown.com, call: 825-4416 or go to CRI Downtown on Facebook.