Diverse agribusinesses gear up for the season

Kitty Hockman-Nicholas walks with her pair of dogs and lamb past a log cabin at The Herds Inn on Hedgebrook Farm. The 1950-square-foot cabin can be rented out overnight for an experience of life on the farm. Rich Cooley/Daily
A peacock fans its feathers on Hedgebrook Farms in Winchester. There are about 50 peacocks on the farm. Rich Cooley/Daily
Kitty Hockman-Nicholas holds a collection of civil war artifacts that have been discovered on the property. Rich Cooley/Daily
A turkey struts around the lawn outside Hedgebrook Farms in Winchester. Rich Cooley/Daily
Kitty Hockman-Nicholas and her dogs and lamb visit the farm's Jersey calves. Rich Cooley/Daily

In the Winchester-Frederick County region, visitors can enjoy a diverse and plentiful array of agritourism-based operations from farmers markets to all-you-need mercantile shops.

Old Town Farmers Market

With the recently renovated Taylor Pavilion in-hand, the Winchester City Council will lift the curtain on the latest farmers’ market in town this month.

Old Town Downtown Manager Jennifer Bell said, “The goal is to continue the revitalization of Old Town” and “create community space in downtown where people can come, see their neighbor” and support local businesses.

The market will have 13 set vendors and three rotating vendors from within a 60-mile radius of Winchester, and will feature products from bakeries, livestock operations and produce farms.

The market will run May 16 through October 31 every Saturday — expect July 4 — from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. More information at: http://bit.ly/1L03QiM.

Winchester Ciderworks

Call it part of a growing cider trend or not, one thing is clear: Winchester Ciderworks is making waves across the mid-Atlantic region.

Owner and operator Stephen Schuurman arrived in Winchester in 2004 from his home in Eastern England, and over the last three years has been developing one of the area’s fastest growing cideries.

“It’s rising all the time,” Schuurman noted. “We’re basically at the moment, making as much as we can and everything that we make is sold.”

With a cold-storage facility allowing Schuurman to press cider year-round, he noted that he is looking to add brandy and pear varieties and “double our production each year.”

More information about Winchester Ciderworks: http://bit.ly/1FirVCK.

The Herds Inn at Hedgebrook Farms

For a traditional farming experience, families or groups can rent the Herds Inn at Hedgebrook Farm for a window into the day-to-day rigors of an active 50-acre dairy farm.

“You never know what you’re going to find,” Owner and operator Kitty Nicholas noted. “When you turn here, there and everywhere, there’s going to be a different animal.”

Nicholas noted that the farm has “a special niche in the marketplace” as an animal welfare-approved operation and the only one of its kind “that is recognized by the USDA.”

Hedgebrook also provides educational tours of the farm and sells its meat and produce in various local farmers’ markets. Information: TheHerdsInn.com.

Linda’s Mercantile

As a popular purveyor of locally grown agricultural goods, Linda’s Mercantile in Winchester has been blending agritourism with Thursday-night open-mic jam sessions for seven years.

David Lay, part owner of the shop, said, “People come from all over. You never know who’s gonna show up, but that’s the biggest thing we do.”

On top of that, Linda and David Lay also sell just about any and every agricultural commodity known to the area. They also provide wide-open market community supported agriculture (CSA) options for recurring customers.

More about Thursday night jamming, shop hours and CSA options at: http://bit.ly/1FisrAA.

Richards Fruit Market

Richards Fruit Market has been a Shenandoah Valley fixture since 1953 and is a bit different in that its season begins July 1, much later than most area markets.

Eddie Richard explained that the market opens in July because “we only sell our own seasonal products” from a farm that is “around 200 acres.” Those products include apples, pumpkins and flowers.

“When we open, we start off with peaches and peaches,” Richard noted. “As the season progresses, we have more products available.”

More information about Richards Fruit Market products and hours: http://bit.ly/1FbKhU3.

West Oaks Farm Market

Mary Snapp, part owner and operator of West Oaks Farm Market, described it as “a family-owner farm market” that raises everything from beef cattle to traditional vegetables like corn and fruit, such as apricots and peaches.

For this year, Snapp noted that the market will add a pick-your-own vegetable option that will include tomatoes, peppers and okra. “I’m basically focusing on things that grow upright.”

Market updates can be found on the West Oaks Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/1FbKGG2.

Marker-Miller Orchards and Farm Market

As an operation that prides itself on quality, century farm Marker-Miller Orchard is gearing up for what could be another successful season. With baked goods, vegetables and pick-your-own commodities, visitors have plenty to choose from.

John Marker, part owner and operator, said he is optimistic about the outlook for this season and expects a little bit more plentiful peach harvest. “We didn’t get the cold weather damage and it looks like they are growing.”

Marker noted that the farm’s pick-your-own will begin in mid-July this season. Additional market information: http://bit.ly/1FbKhU3.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com

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