NEW KENT – With hay rides, a children's play zone, local vendors and fresh produce, the markets at Holly Fork Farm is an attraction young and old can enjoy.
This 28-acre, family-owned and operated business on Holly Fork Road hosts a Summer Twilight Market on the third Thursday of every summer month, from 4-7 p.m. The year's last market will be held Aug. 18.
Vendors supply a large range of products, but organizer Stephanie Ripchick said they must have one thing in common: "make it, bake it, or grow it."
Ripchick said at these events, they "offer a unique-style market of really high quality vendors, so that they can share their items with the community, and then as well our fresh vegetables, jams (and) jellies."
Even though Holly Fork Farm is only powered by one family — Ripchick's parents, husband, and her children — its comprehensive selection of fruits and vegetables rivals that of any grocery store, and far outstrips them in matters of freshness.
For their market on July 21, they sold tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, sunflowers, cantaloupes, squash, watermelons, corn, and peppers in addition to their homemade preserves, jams, jellies and syrups. Guests could also pick their own blackberries or purchase eggs hatched by Holly Fork Farm chickens.
First-time market guest Joan Lucera learned about the event through a friend, who was at the market selling essential oil products. Even before she got a chance to look through the selection of fruits and vegetables, Lucera knew she wanted to buy bread, honey, eggs, and all-natural bug spray from the market vendors.
"My grandfather had a farm, and I've always loved this kind of stuff," said Lucera, looking around at the hustle and bustle of the market. "It just reminds me of that. We used to go out and gather the eggs, and when I think about how eggs are produced now, that's not how it's done, so I don't buy eggs unless it's from one of these clucking around in the yard," she said.
The vendors at the market on July 21 sold a wide array of goods. Guests could purchase duck calls, family antiques, homemade soaps, local honey, fresh bread, clothes, photographs, essential oils, ceramics, decorative woodwork, jewelry, cosmetics and more.
Ripchick said the vendor fee is only $5. "Our goal is not to particularly charge them a high-priced rate," she said. "Our goal is moreso to have them here, to get known with others and so that the other folks can come and enjoy their items as well as ours."
June Bergeron, the owner of Mechanicsville's Great Harvest Bread Company, was at the farm selling loaves and rolls of assorted breads.
"I actually met Stephanie at another farmer's market," said Bergeron. "In speaking with her, she really liked the Great Harvest way of making bread. Everything is handmade, our breads are sweetened only with honey, and our wheat is ground fresh daily in our bakery."
This is the farm's second year of hosting Summer Twilight Markets, and Ripchick said the number of vendors is always increasing.
"It's also grown in the fact that more folks are attending it, because they like it," said Ripchick of the market. Ripchick said one other reason for this may be the convenient after-work timing.
"(If) they don't want to spend their Saturday out at market, they can come get what they want on Thursday," said Ripchick. "It'll still be great for the weekend."
To learn how to get involved, contact her by calling 804-366-6349 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Guests can also learn more about the farm by visiting hollyforkfarm.com.