Lakeside Farmers' Market boosting local businesses

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - The popularity of a local farmers' market is helping invigorate the economy is one Henrico community.  Several new businesses have opened up in Lakeside since the Farmers' Market became a permanent fixture last year.

One vendor has seen so much success since last year, they've now opened up their own shop in Lakeside.

The foot traffic wasn't that busy this hot Wednesday morning, but on the average Saturday, this market on Lakeside Avenue pulls in anywhere from 800 to 1000 people.  Peter and Sharon Francisco own and operate this farmers' market and a number of other Lakeside properties.  One goal when creating Henrico's first permanent farmer's market was to stimulate the economy.

Peter Francisco, owner and operator says, "In order to keep the shoppers in our area and keep shoppers from outside the area coming to Lakeside, you need something that's a draw, and the farmers' market is a draw."

And it worked.  The Francisco's say most of the businesses in the community are seeing more customers and there's been new development.  Two new businesses including Umami Coffee and Tea started out as vendors at the farmers' market and developed enough of a customer base to open nearby stores.  New features at the farmers' market this year include an indoor pavilion and an opportunity to see where your food comes from.  Jim and Michelle Kruize operate a farm that's literally feet away from the pavilion.  They pick produce in the morning, wash it and walk it over to sell.

Jim Kruize says, "Pretty much if you can eat it, we grow it; we've got cabbage right now, summer squash; we've got tomatoes coming in, peppers, melons, lettuce, strawberries, lettuce, radishes."

The Kruizes will allow folks to tour the farm to see exactly what it means for food to be locally grown.

Michelle Kruize says, "It's great for the kids; it's great for the education of the parents because we will bring people back here sometimes to let them see where they're food comes from, and that's the greatest benefit of being here."

One of the great things about this new indoor pavilion here at the Lakeside Farmers' Market is it will stay open all year round.

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