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FARMERS MARKET IS NO. 1
King George Farmers Market is America's favorite

 Customers look over produce at a stand at the top-ranked King George Farmers Market earlier this month.
DELAYNA EARLEY FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 9/3/2010

BY EDIE GROSS

The King George Farmers Market is a tiny operation with a whole lot of fans.

This week, the market, which has about a dozen regular vendors, was declared America's favorite "boutique" farmers market in a contest sponsored by American Farmland Trust.

"I can't believe it, but we did it," said market manager DeLaura Padovan, who had urged friends, relatives and anyone else who would listen to vote online for the King George market.

American Farmland Trust, which conserves farmland and promotes consumption of locally grown food, launched the contest June 1. It allowed voters to rank the top boutique, small, medium and large markets in the country.

"Part of me was convinced we would win, but part of me was terrified we couldn't pull it off," said Padovan. "Now here we are at the end of the rainbow."

The King George Farmers Market earned 1,082 online votes, tops in the "boutique" category, which covered markets with 15 or fewer vendors. Its nearest competitor was the Lansdowne Farmers Market outside of Philadelphia, with 798 votes.

King George was the second most popular market in Virginia, after the Falls Church Farmers Market, which was the top-rated medium-sized market in the country. King George was also ranked 11th overall in the country.

The prize is a marketing package that includes a new custom-designed logo and 500 tote bags bearing the message "No Farms, No Food."

From Day One, the King George Farmers Market took the lead in the contest, as supporters sent e-mails and passed out fliers urging folks to cast their votes.

A few weeks ago, Padovan said she noticed that a market outside of Chicago and another one outside of Philadelphia were gaining on King George, so she turned up the heat.

Her oldest daughter used Facebook to round up another 150 votes. And after Padovan circulated some fliers at the King George YMCA on Monday, its executive director, Elizabeth Clark, encouraged members to cast their own votes.

On Wednesday, everyone at the Y was talking about the tiny market's victory, Clark said.

"I'm so proud of our little market," she said. "I feel like we won the presidential election. I'm just waiting for Diane Sawyer to show up."

Edie Gross: 540/374-5428
Email: egross@freelancestar.com


The King George Farmers Market--now the country's favorite boutique market--operates from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays between May and Thanksgiving in the parking lot of King George Elementary School at the corner of State Routes 3 and 205.

Shoppers can purchase vegetables, fruit, flowers, jams and jellies, mushrooms, herbs, fish, beef, pork, baked goods and eggs--all grown or produced in King George.

The market also recently earned approval to accept food stamps, though the technology hasn't been implemented just yet.

For more information, call 540/775-2963.

To see how the King George Farmers Market stacks up against other U.S. markets, visit farmland.org. Under "No Farms, No Food," click on "America's Favorite Farmers Markets."