Smart Markets will soon open a new outlet in Chantilly at the St. Veronica’s Catholic Church. This will bring locally grown food to Chantilly and also help small farmers in the region to compete with large farms that usually supply grocery stores with their produce.
According to Jean Janssen, the founder of Smart Markets, this market is supposed to open its doors on June 19. It is the eighth local market he is opening since he launched the concept in 2008. Jean Janssen is an entrepreneur and an activist from Northern Virginia.
The concept behind Smart Markets is that rules are enforced to ensure that farmers or vendors only sell what they grow or raise; not what they get from other sources. The local small farmers do not find it difficult to follow these rules since the rules are for their own benefit; thought there are some who try to sneak in some produce that are not from their farms.
Jean Janssen said that she takes seriously the commitment to ‘producer only’ and that she has booted many farmers who have tried to sneak in what they did not grow. “Our safety and food safety standards are high and we make sure our vendors know what is permitted, what is not permitted and what is recommended by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services” she said.
At the Smart Markets, the customers themselves are able to find out about the safety of the produce by asking the vendors about the pesticides they used, how they grew it, where the it came from, how and when it was picked, when it was planted and even how long the farmer has been growing the crop. They can ask any question that they feel is necessary to help them understand more about safety of the produce.
The smart markets are only meant for locally grown food. And even from the taste, the locals can tell whether it is from within the locality or it has been shipped from somewhere else.
These markets are aimed at protecting small farmers against the huge corporate operations that supply the chains like Giant and Safeway. It is all about sustainability. The large corporate may occasionally promote some local produce, but it is not easy to tell where they came from. And since the farmers who grew them can not be known, it is not easy to get answers to questions such as what pesticides were used, how they were grown, how and when they were picked and when they were planted.
It is the produce, the dairy and the meats that attract customers in the long run and an understanding of how all those things were raised is very important to them.
Most of the farmers are right on schedule, except that some produce like fruits ripen at the same time rather than intervals, but the farmers are getting more innovative by constructing greenhouses so as to have control over what they grow depending on the season and demand.