From Farm, to market, to table: exploring sustainable agriculture in the Shenandoah Valley


Malcolms’ Market Garden: A Private Farm Oasis Unveiled

Step into the enchanting world of Malcolms’ Market Garden, a hidden gem tucked away in the heart of Staunton. The owners of this farm contribute to the esteemed Staunton Farmers’ Market, and also offered us a unique opportunity to experience the joys of rural life up close.

We walked hand-in-hand with the owners and their lively seven years old son, James, and their delightful animal companions. We couldn’t help but acknowledge the beauty of sustainable agriculture and the joy of connecting with nature. Ashley is the manager of the Staunton Farmers’ Market. Her and her husband own this personal farm that contributes to the market weekly throughout the growing season.

Daniel and Ashley Malcolm are the owners of Malcolms’ Market Garden, and 2013 was the first season that started it all. They started with a 30 member CSA, vending at the Staunton Farmers’ Market, and delivering fresh produce to fine restaurants. The CSA has grown to 150 members and they have built a great customer base in our close-knit community in the Shenandoah Valley.


As we arrive at Malcolms Market Garden, we are greeted by an idyllic scene of hoop houses, rows and rows of plantings, and thriving crops busting at the seams. The farm’s rustic charm is immediately captivating, offering a tranquil retreat from the busyness of modern life. It is here that the owners eagerly welcome us, ready to share their passion for farming and their commitment to providing the local community with fresh, sustainably grown produce.

Led hand-in-hand by sweet James, the warm sunshine bathes us as we stroll along the paths that wind through the fields of vibrant fruits, vegetables, flowers, and fragrant herbs. With every step, Ashley and Daniel’s wealth of knowledge becomes apparent as they shares fascinating insights into sustainable farming techniques, crop rotation, and soil health. It is a captivating blend of wisdom they have learned since beginning this journey.

As we wander deeper into the farm, our senses are awakened by the lively sounds of nature. We are introduced to the farm’s adorable canine companions, who wag their tails in excitement, thrilled to join us on our exploration. The friendly dogs lead the way as we make our way to the chicken coop, where a flock of free-roaming hens joyfully clucks and scratches at the earth.

As we amble through the farm, we catch glimpses of James eagerly exploring his surroundings with boundless curiosity, snacking on snap peas and fresh strawberries. His infectious laughter fills the air, reminding us of the invaluable role farms like this play in fostering a deep connection between children and the natural world. Malcolms’ Market Garden is more than just a farm; it is a living classroom, teaching the younger generation about the importance of sustainable agriculture and the value of knowing where our food comes from.

Malcolms’ Market Garden is a sanctuary that invited us to reconnect with nature, enjoy the bounties of the land, and embrace the principles of sustainable farming.

This private local farm, contributing to and managing the Staunton Farmers’ Market, serves as a shining example of how small-scale agriculture can thrive while nourishing the local community. As we bid farewell to this serene haven, we are reminded of the importance of supporting local farmers and cherishing the treasures they provide. Malcolms’ Market Garden is a place where passion meets purpose, and it is a privilege to experience its beauty firsthand.

welcome to the staunton farmers’ market

Within the city of Staunton, Virginia, lies a treasure trove of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and community spirit—the Staunton Farmers’ Market: circa 1993. This thriving marketplace has become the heart and soul of the local community, offering a diverse array of products sourced from all over within 70 miles of Staunton, VA. From succulent meats and pure honey to bountiful vegetables, luscious fruits, fragrant flowers, and captivating artisanal creations, this farmers market captures the essence of the region’s agricultural heritage and entrepreneurial spirit.

The Staunton Farmers’ Market, situated in the historic Staunton Wharf, provides a vibrant atmosphere that beckons both residents and visitors. Every Saturday morning, the market buzzes with activity as people flock to explore the delightful offerings displayed by the local vendors. With its charming location only a minute’s walk to the famous E. Beverley St, the market provides a picturesque backdrop for shoppers to indulge in a truly immersive experience.

One of the market’s distinguishing features is its commitment to sourcing farmers and artisans who set up their stalls and take great pride in bringing the freshest and highest quality goods to the community. From family-owned farms to small-scale apiaries, every vendor contributes to the rich tapestry of flavors and experiences found at the market.

Nurtured by the fertile valley soil, the market’s tables are adorned with a cornucopia of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Crisp heirloom tomatoes, vibrant peppers, plump berries, and juicy peaches are just a few of the treasures one can expect to find. Shoppers are treated to the unique opportunity of forging a direct connection with the farmers, gaining insights into the cultivation methods and stories behind the produce they purchase.

At the market, customers can see firsthand where their food comes from and how it’s grown

Beyond the vibrant colors and tantalizing aromas of fresh produce, the Staunton Wharf Farmers Market boasts an impressive selection of locally sourced meats, including grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, and succulent cuts of pork. With an emphasis on sustainable and ethical practices, these farmers offer a more conscious choice for meat lovers, allowing them to enjoy delicious, guilt-free indulgence.

The market also plays host to skilled beekeepers, whose honey offers a taste of the local floral diversity. From delicate wildflower honey to robust buckwheat varieties, each jar tells a story of bees collecting nectar from blossoms dotting the region’s landscape. The honey, a product of meticulous craftsmanship and nature’s collaboration, becomes a sweet ambassador for the farmers market’s dedication to local excellence.

In addition to the agricultural delights, the Staunton Farmers’ Market serves as a platform for local artisans to showcase their creativity and craftsmanship. There also are booths for baked goods, chai tea, and Indian street food. Skilled jewelry makers, woodworkers, soap makers, and textile artists display their unique creations, allowing visitors to discover one-of-a-kind treasures and support the region’s thriving arts scene. The market buzzes with excitement as visitors browse the booths finding that perfect piece of artistry to take home. More than just a shopping destination, the Staunton Farmers’ Market fosters a strong sense of community. It acts as a meeting place, where neighbors catch up, friends exchange stories, and new friendships are formed. Visitors can enjoy live music performances, cooking demonstrations, and educational workshops that enhance their understanding of sustainable living and the local food system.

a visit to autumn olive farm

Autumn Olive Farm stands as a testament to the remarkable synergy between sustainable farming practices, biodiversity, and animal welfare. This extraordinary farm, enveloped in lush autumn olive groves, has garnered a reputation for producing high-quality pork while upholding a steadfast commitment to ethical and environmentally conscious practices and encouraging the “farm to table” phenomena that has taken over.

As one sets foot on Autumn Olive Farm, an enchanting tapestry of flora and fauna unfolds before their eyes. The farm’s namesake, the autumn olive, flourishes abundantly, creating a harmonious habitat for various plant and animal species and a YUMMY treat for the pigs that you see calling this place home. The biodiversity of the land acts as a natural windbreak, providing protection to the animals and enhancing the overall health of the farm’s ecosystem, and secures the grounds from flood so the rain soaks into the earth vs. washing it all away into the nearest South River.

At Autumn Olive Farm, sustainability is more than just a buzzword—it’s a way of life.

The farm actively promotes biodiversity by incorporating rotational grazing techniques and regenerative agriculture practices. By allowing animals to graze on diverse pastures and ensuring the careful management of soil health, Autumn Olive Farm fosters a flourishing ecosystem that benefits both the land and the animals that call it home.

Ethical treatment of animals lies at the heart of Autumn Olive Farm’s operations. The farm places a strong emphasis on providing its animals with a life that is as close to their natural habitat as possible. Here, the pigs roam freely in spacious pastures, engaging in instinctual behaviors and forging strong social bonds. This commitment to animal welfare translates into the superior quality of pork produced at the farm.

They enjoy a diet consisting of locally sourced feed, supplemented with the nutritious forage available on the farm. This careful attention to the animals’ well-being not only ensures exceptional pork but also instills a sense of pride and satisfaction among those who choose to support sustainable and compassionate farming practices. Autumn Olive Farm serves as a beacon of inspiration, encouraging others to adopt environmentally conscious methods that can help preserve our planet for future generations.

Their commitment to sustainable practices and animal welfare is beautifully reflected in the exceptional quality of its pork. The careful rearing, natural foraging, and stress-free lives of the pigs result in meat that is tender, flavorful, and free from artificial additives. Local chefs and discerning consumers alike prize the farm’s pork for its superior taste and ethical origins.

Whether it’s succulent pork chops, artisanal sausages, or richly marbled bacon, Autumn Olive Farm’s high-quality pork offers a delightful culinary experience. By choosing Autumn Olive Farm products, consumers are not only savoring the fruits of sustainable farming but also supporting a local business that prioritizes the well-being of its animals and the environment.

finally to your table: “Zynodoa”

In the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Zynodoa is a renowned farm-to-table restaurant that has been delighting diners for over 17 years. Known for its innovative and locally-sourced menu, Zynodoa has become a culinary destination under the skilled guidance of Executive Chef Matt Hull. In a recent interview, Chef Matt shared his passion for Southern cooking, his close relationships with local farmers, and his commitment to creating unique and memorable dining experiences for his guests.

Located just a few blocks from the farmers’ market, “Zynodoa” restaurant has quickly become a favorite among locals and visitors alike. The restaurant is known for its innovative, seasonal menus that showcase the best of what the local farmers have to offer.

Chef Matt’s culinary journey began with a childhood steeped in Southern cooking, influenced by his grandmothers’ recipes and their love for traditional Southern fare. After a brief stint in pre-med, Chef Matt realized his true calling was in the kitchen, and he enrolled in culinary school in Norfolk, Virginia. Upon graduating, he returned to the Shenandoah Valley, drawn by his love for the area and the abundance of local ingredients that it offered.

At Zynodoa, Chef Matt’s approach to cooking is rooted in the farm-to-table concept, which emphasizes using locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients to create dishes that are fresh, flavorful, and sustainable. He has built meaningful relationships with local farmers, whom he considers not just suppliers, but friends. He collaborates closely with them, discussing what to plant and offering input on their crops, and in turn, they provide him with the best of their harvest.

One of Chef Matt’s favorite aspects of working with local farmers is the opportunity to incorporate unique and lesser-known ingredients into his menu. He shared an example of how a farmer introduced him to a lettuce variety called Tokyo Bekana, which he was initially hesitant to try but ended up using in a Caesar salad that became a hit with diners. This spirit of experimentation and willingness to embrace new ingredients and flavors is a hallmark of Chef Matt’s culinary approach.

In addition to using popular ingredients like fried oysters, Chef Matt also seeks out lesser-used cuts of meat, such as flat iron or skirt steak, and offers them on the menu. He also takes requests from farmers, asking them if there’s anything they need to sell or if they have an abundance of certain crops, and he is willing to rearrange his menu to accommodate their produce. This collaborative approach not only supports local farmers but also allows Chef Matt to constantly innovate and create unique dining experiences for his guests.

Chef Matt’s dedication to working directly with local farmers extends beyond the restaurant kitchen. He often visits farmers markets to meet new vendors and discover new ingredients. He values the connections he has developed with farmers, who reach out to him with updates on their produce and even consult with him on what to plant. For Chef Matt, these relationships are not just about buying ingredients but about collaborating and learning from each other, which he believes adds a special touch to his culinary work.

At Zynodoa, Chef Matt’s creativity and commitment to using locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients are evident in every dish on the menu. From the changing flavors of the seasonal chicken and dumplings to the succulent Tomahawk ribeyes that are a hit with diners, Zynodoa offers a dining experience that is both delicious and sustainable.

Chef Matt’s close relationships with local farmers and his willingness to embrace new ingredients and flavors make Zynodoa a true farm-to-table gem in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.

As Zynodoa approaches its 18th year in operation, Chef Matt continues to push the boundaries of farm-to-table cuisine, creating unique and memorable dining experiences for his guests. His passion for Southern cooking, his close relationships with local farmers, and his dedication to sustainability make Zynodoa a must-visit destination for anyone coming to Staunton, Virginia.

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