March 17, 2008
Sent out e-mails to Charley Maloney and Libbey Oliver asking to meet with them and discuss their experiences with local food in Williamsburg. Finished entries for 1963

March 18, 2008
Heard back and called Libbey Oliver. Set up a meeting with her for Wednesday March 19 at 1pm at her office on Quaterpath Rd and the Recreation Center. Hope to discuss with her the history of the farmer’s market in Williamsburg, her experience with food in the area and how it has changed and the challenges of bringing in food to the market. On the phone she mentioned a project she would like to have somebody work on-documenting the history of the farmer’s market from 1722 on. This is not the goal of the Williamsburg Documentary Project or the focus of my topic, but perhaps I could gather some of the more recent information so that she would have a starting point. She also mentioned this opportunity: Farm Fresh needs an advisory group of diverse women, stay-at-home moms, professional women (who shop at Farm Fresh) to help with an advisory group, noon-1:15 p.m. March 28 at the Cybernetics Building on Victory Blvd. The women will help FF develop meals for time-starved women.
If you know of someone who would like to participate, email me their info please so I can forward it to Susan Mayo, pr person with FF. Lunch will be served and participants get a gift card. I work often with Susan Mayo on content for different venues. After this was the following : Kathy Van Miliaceum
Editor, Niche Publications
Daily Press, Inc.
7505 Warwick Blvd.
Newport News, Va. 23607
Phone: 757-247-4781
Fax: 757-247-4848
Don’t really know what this is about. Maybe another contact? Or perhaps Libbey was using another computer/e-mail account?
Add to Libbey’s contact info: 757-259-3768
March 19, 2008
Here are my notes from the meeting with Libbey:
Meeting with Libbey Oliver 3.19.08 1 pm Quarter Path Recreation Center on Quarter Path Rd
How the Market came about:
In 2001, the owner of Barret’s and the owner of the Cheese Shop came up with the idea and pulled together a an advisory committee that met for a year. They used the Dupont Circle market in D.C. as a model and got advice from the leaders of that market. There has always been a connection with William and Mary-somebody from the institution has been on the board.
By the time Libbey was hired they had a mission statement with goals in place and knew where they wanted it located. Libbey knew the categories needed and had some connections already. The farmers were willing to try the idea of a market. And vendors have brought other vendors into the market.
Previously-a market at N. Henry and Lafayette by the train tracks-more like trucks backing up and opening back up. Strawberry Plains Rd-building started as co-op between farmers and people. Local farmers could bring things in and leave them there. Not a good rep for quality, didn’t do well and it folded.
Now other communities close-by want markets. Will be hard on everybody, farmers aren’t big enough. Some local farmers don’t want to be involved with the market (not enough staff, don’t want to deal with regulations/forms).
The early days of the market:
Started with twenty-one vendors for the first regular season which opened in July 2002. Officially closed at the end of October but vendors wanted to keep coming back so there was one market day during the holidays (second weekend in December). Libbey claimed it to be the best one of the year. Four more vendors were added for this market. The next year there was one added after Thanksgiving, the year after that one was before Thanksgiving and during February to April it was held once a month.
Now there are about forty-one vendors the Market works with, about twenty-six to thirty-two typically come. The most recent market on March 8 had twenty vendors.
Aromas on board from the beginning-decided needed coffee to have a good mix at the market. Realized that lose regulations were needed as not all bakers use strictly local produce in their goods.
The problem of transportation: Market checked a couple times a year by the Department of Agriculture so standards and requirements have to be met. Ice put in coolers with products. Some vendors use dry ice. Some vendors come from 150 miles away, some the night before and stay over-night so they have to keep their product regulated. Coolers full of ice and bison are heavy!…
Logistics: Vendors bring their own tents and tables. With the location of Merchant’s Square, trucks are mostly eliminated (though some vendors do use them out of necessity for more ice). Libbey and volunteers are out on location at 6am, some vendors are there before then. Some vendors may pick the night before, or get up at 2/3am, on the road by 4/5 and at the market in time. Sometimes spread out in front of Barnes and Noble. One side of the street gets more sun than the other…
How the market is funded: Founding sponsors-Colonial Williamsburg, City of Williamsburg, Merchant Square Association. Sponsors for specific activities-Towne Bank (Chef’s tent), Ukrops (music), Prudential (cooler bags), Riverside Hospital (money for advertising).
Buyers: When opened many would remark “it’s high time.” Now people moving into the area see it as a draw. The individuals that come the least are young families with children involved in various activities on Saturday mornings. More students have been coming (Libbey said that she feels more connected to the College than she did three years ago). Professors have always come. Each hour the number of customers is counted with a clicker (see green sheet). Over time customers have been buying more per person. Earlier in the day (8-10am) more locals come, later on (10:30,11) more tourists begin to appear. A number of time-share owners are also coming on a regular basis.
Advertising: try to get into every calendar possible, paid ads, website, weekly e-mails, newsletter, flyers
Pricing: By the vendor. Vendors can charge a little more here and people know a bit more about the foods (i.e: sheep cheese). Probably about half of the vendors have another job with benefits they go to each week. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)- a family pays a fixed amount and is guaranteed fresh food available at the time. This allows farmers to get money when not bringing something in and safeguards them a bit if a crop goes out or something goes wrong.
Vendors/local stores: Some vendors sell to restaurants and are flattered by the patronizing of chefs (Le Yaca, Barret’s). Barret’s does a market lunch on Saturday after buying the produce in the morning. One of the vendors sells to Ellwood Thompson in Carry town. As the market has grown, so have the farmers. They are also beginning to branch out and are adding things to add to the market (such as apples and raspberries). Cut flowers go to local florists, honey sold at Aroma’s.
Goals: -keep people aware of market and keep it viable -behind the scenes goals mostly…-need a person to establish a “Volunteer/Friends Organization.” -working on connecting up with neighborhoods -website -newsletter (updated it this year) -going towards bigger ads rather that smaller ones -want to do an event (dinner) featuring foods of the market as a money maker -children and connecting farmers with schools -high profile to restaurants-chefs -new sponsors (Farm Bureau sponsored a vendor lunch this year) -BIGGEST ONE-trying to be greener (no bags, clams etc…) CA is putting out guidelines that maybe the market could follow.

Libbey’s personal food shopping history in the area:
Lives on Merrimac Tr side of town so goes to Farm Fresh or Food Lion (has improved a lot, added organic a few years ago). Used to live on DOG st and could bike everywhere-there was an A&P on DOG st. Used to be a meat market in Prince George (now Massey Camera). Moved to town in 1975, but came seasonally in the 60s. Worked for CW for 23 years-behind the scenes, picked and arranged flowers, did the Christmas decorations. Used to be three drug stores with counters, Trellis location used to be one (upset when it got torn down). Same with where Williams and Sonoma is now. Minor’s where WaWa is now on 143-a Williamsburg name/corner grocery store. The Grove on 60.

March 20-24
No work done on project

1 Response to “Journal”

  1. 1 Arthur Knight April 1, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Great work, Ellen.

Comments are currently closed.


The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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