By Elizabeth Holmes|
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – Dairy Market in Charlottesville is honoring its merchants and farmers behind the businesses throughout the week of June 14 to June 18. Coinciding with Virginia’s Agriculture Week, Governor Ralph Northam stopped by the market Wednesday morning to get in on the celebration.
“They’re really the backbone of our economy, to see all of these businesses,” Northam said. “It’s just a beautiful venue.”
Northam, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring, and University of Virginia President Jim Ryan toured the market, stopping to speak with vendors like Ken Smith, owner of Moo Thru.
“We need some recognition of the dairy industry,” Smith said. “How important it is to the local economy. We’ve lost two-thirds, three-quarters in the dairies in Virginia, and all that money that was produced and created through a dairy farm, is gone. And I’m talking about millions of dollars in every single farm that has left Virginia.”
Smith said having a space at Dairy Market brings in critical business.
“They enjoy a farm-to-table atmosphere and that’s what we are. We come right from the dairy farm where we make our ice cream on the farm and bring it right to our locations,” he said.
Patrick Strasser, a bee farmer and owner of Bee Conscious, which sells baked goods, said the space provides an opportunity for community.
“This all really happened at the right time. Now, that the Dairy Market is here, it’s open, it’s almost fully operational, there’s two or three spots that need to be open up, and at that point, it’s going to be the place to be,” Strasser said.
It’s a place for nearly every palate – from burgers to brews and everything in between.
Northam said his administration is working to create places like the market across the commonwealth, especially as the country recovers from the pandemic.
“We want to make sure that we reach out, and have what we call accelerator programs, allow people to get started that want to have a business. That goes back to our workforce, letting people know about these exciting opportunities, and teaching them how to start a business, how to get capital, how to get employees,” Northam said. “We want to have everyone in Virginia to have the same opportunities so we’ll continue to work on that.”
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