Raennah Archive

Barley Finds Fertile Soil in Madison County

Barley—a high fiber grain—has proved to be a productive crop for Madison County farmers. At the end of 2017, Madison County ranked third in the state for total barley production with 30,200 bushels, and fourth in the state for yield per acre at 57 bushels. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), an office under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, released these figures in December based on self-reporting that farmers submit through the Small Grain County Agricultural Production Survey and the Agricultural Survey.

While barley may be trending on health food store shelves as a good addition to soups and salads, it has long been an essential ingredient in the beer-brewing process. And as barley thrives in Madison County, breweries are thriving throughout Central Virginia where they have become an important part of the local economy.

Learn about the Brew Ridge Trail in Nelson County.

Learn how to start a brewery.

Interested in buying your own cropland and/or establishing your own brewery? Search here.

The Mushroom Market

When you think of farming, do you picture crops such as corn and soybeans, or think of garden vegetables and fruit orchards? Have you ever considered that fungi can also be farmed?

Source: USDA

Source: USDA

This fall, the USDA released a study that estimated Americans consume nearly 3 pounds of fresh mushrooms annually. The study also found that 88 percent of mushrooms farmed in the U.S. “are sold in the fresh market.” Further, the USDA report found, “per capita consumption of Agaricus mushrooms increased by nearly 22% since 2010.” (Agaricus mushrooms are a genus that includes White Button, Portobello, and Cremini mushrooms.)

Sharondale Farm, just a few miles east of Charlottesville in Keswick, exclusively grows Organic Certified mushrooms and teaches customers how to grow their own, too. Owner Mark Jones founded Sharondale Farm in 2004. With a M.S. in Plant Health and a background in horticultural therapy for youth and disabled adults, his interest in farming mushrooms extends beyond consumption. The farm’s website details his current work as “low-input mushroom growing for small farm diversification; fungi that contribute to agroforestry and natural resource management plans; intercropping mushrooms in the food forest for production of food, medicine, and soil fertility; and collecting local strains of mushrooms that have potential as food, medicine, and earth healers.” Who knew mushrooms were so versatile?

North Cove Mushrooms in Madison County offers their greenhouse-grown mushrooms all year long, as well as their homemade prepared foods, such as mushroom ravioli and shiitake bean burgers. Their booth can be found at the Charlottesville City Market in season (April-December). They also run a food truck called North Cove Café, which can be found at various locations in Madison and has a menu that includes items such as a mushroom crepe and mushroom tempura. (Yum!)

Next time you think about farming, don’t forget your local fungi farmers!


Shop Local (Farmers’ Markets)!

Central Virginia has a thriving agricultural community with enthusiastic support for the farm-to-table, local foods movement that shows no signs of waning. In Charlottesville and the surrounding counties you will find restaurants of varying style and cuisine that proudly site their locally-sourced ingredients. The best visual representation of such a vibrant local economy that supports its homegrown foods and locally raised livestock is perhaps most evident at the many bustling farmers’ markets in the area. For your easy reference, we’ve pulled together a list of those in and around Charlottesville. At the markets listed below, you’ll be able to peruse fruits, vegetables, and cut flowers grown in local fields, taste homemade baked goods made with fresh ingredients such as local honey, and admire the handiwork of local artisans.


There are a couple options in Charlottesville to get fresh, local produce along with the farmers’ market experience.

City Market

Saturdays, 7 a.m.-12 p.m. | April-December

In the lot between Water St. and South St. | Charlottesville, VA

Farmers in the Park

Wednesdays, 3-7 p.m. | May-September

300 Meade Ave. | Charlottesville, VA

Crozet Farmers Market 

Saturdays, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. | May-October

1156 Crozet Ave. | Crozet United Methodist Church (CUMC)

What makes the Crozet Market unique is that market sales go to support the CUMC food pantry. Additionally, every second and fourth Saturday, the Horticulture Help Desk is open for any questions you might have for the Piedmont Master Gardeners who staff the desk. Common questions range from pest control to plant health and environmental impact.

Nelson Farmers Market Cooperative

Saturdays, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. | May-October

3079 Rockfish Valley Hwy. | Nellysford, VA

This year the Nelson Farmers Market Cooperative celebrates twenty years in operation supporting the local farming community.

Madison Farmers’ Market 

Saturdays, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. | May-October

1110 Fairground Rd. | Madison, VA

Fluvanna Farmer’s Market at Pleasant Grove

Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. | Tuesdays, 2-6 p.m.

1730 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy. | Palmyra, VA

Greene Farmers Market

Saturdays, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. | May-September

Tractor Supply on Route 33 | Ruckersville, VA


Mineral Farmer’s Market

Saturdays, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. | Mini Market Tuesdays, 5-7 p.m., June-August

81 Louisa Ave. | Mineral, VA (Louisa County)