Williamsburg Farmers Market executive director and market manager Tracy Frey spoke to members of the city’s business community about how she has worked to grow the Merchants Square market during the Economic Development Authority’s roundtable luncheon Tuesday.
The local farmers market started on July 6, 2002, she said. Since then, its mission has been to give local growers and producers a platform to sell fresh, seasonal food and produce direct to local shoppers.
The Williamsburg Farmers Market kicked off its 18th season on Duke of Gloucester Street in March, and attracts an average of 4,871 visitors on a normal Saturday, she said. With an average of 50 to 55 regional vendors each week, customers can find fresh produce, meats, drinks, flowers, soaps and much more.
While her main objectives for the market are to stimulate the local economy and foster a weekly vibrant downtown gathering place for tourists and locals, Frey also stressed the importance of making the farmers market accessible to local residents, regardless of their income level.
“I am very passionate about access to fresh, local food for all income levels in our community,” she said. “Some of the ways that we do that, most people should know that we do accept SNAP benefits, and in addition to accepting it, we actually match it, which makes food more affordable at all income levels.”
When discussing the economic impact the market has had on Williamsburg, Frey said it has generated $14.5 million in vendor sales over the course of its 17 completed seasons.
“We are not a small market, we are actually considered in Virginia to be a medium-sized market,” she said. “Small markets are around 10 (vendors) or under, and the largest markets are 100-plus vendors. We average about 50 to 55 vendors per week, which is actually a notable growth for us.”
Weekly programs include live music, chef demonstrations from May to October, and a new children’s program called the Power of Produce Club that runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Each Saturday starting at 9:30 a.m., children can take part in 30 minutes of free, hands-on activities including scavenger hunts, tastings, arts and crafts and more Frey said.
“We know that in a lot of families, their children are pushing their decisions on Saturday mornings, so it’s great to see those children come,” she said.
The Williamsburg Farmers Market is open from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays in Merchants Square between Boundary and Henry streets. For more information, visit williamsburgfarmersmarket.com.
John Hilker recently joined James City County’s Two Rivers Country Club at Governor’s Land as its new general manager and chief operating officer, according to a recent news release.
He started his new role at the private country club on May 29, and previously led Kingsmill Resort as its chief operations officer and president of the Kingsmill Community Services Association.
Hilker will oversee operations at Two Rivers Country Club’s 18-hole golf course, along with its two restaurants, wine shop, event venues, tennis club, marinas, pools and social events.
Hilker holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel administration from Washington State University, according to the release. He also brings more than 20 years of experience to the role as a former general manager and HOA president of Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto, Florida. He was also general manager of The Bayou Club in Largo, Florida and Hunter's Green Country Club in Tampa.
“On behalf of the Two Rivers Country Club membership, we’re pleased to welcome John Hilker as our new general manager and chief operating officer,” Two Rivers Country Club Board of Governors President Ned Frey said in the release. “We are most fortunate to have attracted such an experienced, service- and success-oriented professional to our club.”
For more information, call 757-258-4610 or visit GovernorsLand.com.
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.