On the weekends, I visited the Scottsville Farmers Market at 125 Fleet Street, Scottsville, Albemarle County. The market usually opens at 9 am to 13 pm every Saturday. There are two farmer markets in Scottsville town: the first one opens every Saturday and another is on every Wednesday. The market I visited was established more than 10 years ago and it is quite small with only about 10-12 booths displaying agricultural products. I went to meet and talk with some farmers at the market. Most of the farmers living in Scottsville are only about 5-10 km from their homes to the market, and the most remote households are 40 km away and they come from another county, namely Nelson County to bring farming products to selling here. Farmers who want to display their products at the market must register and submit applications to the township officials for approval, but the process here is quite simple.
How many acres of land to grow? These are farmers with a small area of about 25 – 55 acres (10-22 ha) and experience farming at least 3 years and the highest is 15 years. The products include chili, black garlic, vegetables, pork, beef, processed products (lemon drop chili pepper spread and peach wine spread) and some kinds of plant varieties. Surprisingly, there is only one farmer with Certified Naturally Grown organic certification for vegetable products. The other farmers still think that their products are “organic” since they use fish fertilizers ($38/1 container with 4 liters) and the groundwater for irrigation, and the pesticides and chemical fertilizers are not being used at the farm.
Why want to be a farmer? These farmers said that they have a passion for working outside with fresh air and play with animals for those who do the livestock. The older farmers who prefer to relax when they get retired. Also, the others who keep doing farming as their parents are farmers.
What challenges farmers are facing? The answers could be different because each household cultivates different types of agricultural products; so they also have different difficulties. For garlic farmers, removing the weeds is the hardest because they said: “the garlic does not like the weed”. For vegetable growers, they are concerned about the weather because there was a huge amount of rainfall in the town which caused damage to productivity last year. Particularly for pig, cow, goat and chicken producers, they are facing the difficulties in high capital investment when purchasing the original breed and traveling very far from Scottsville (2.5 hours drive) to buy it, as well as learning how to keep animals healthy.
Is there any support from the government or relevant organizations? Only one farmer said that they received the government support with 80% of material costs to invest in setting up the well to get underground water for animal husbandry. The remaining farmers themselves implement and do not receive any support.
A farmer who gets support from the government in building the well for raising animals
What is the reason for not supplying farming products to the supermarkets? Most farmers think that they only do small-scale farming, which is not enough for supplying to supermarkets. Moreover, they cultivate mainly to serve their families and only want to sell at the Farmers Markets so as to provide clean and safe products to the community.
What to do if the trade is not good? They suppose that if the output is not consumed by the day, they will contact and donate it to the churches nearby the market, and the churches might give it to “Girls and Boys Club”. What a great and meaningful work!