We moved to Richmond nearly ten months ago, and one of the things that we immediately fell in love with is the sense of community built around many of the neighborhoods in the area. It is something we loved about Pittsburgh, too, so seeing it appear so strongly in Richmond made us feel an instant bond. Located in Central Virginia, Richmond is ultimately a very unique place. It features plenty of southern charm (as you would expect) in its many quaint neighborhoods with beautiful row homes, but it also feels distinct from its neighbors to the south. It's the capital of Virginia, so it also is a hub for local and state politics (we are only a few blocks from the Virginia Capitol, which happens to be one of the United States' first architectural marvels), but it's not just a city of politics. It is a city after all, so there are plenty of amazing places to shop; no shopping lover would be remiss here! However, it also features some amazing parks (and the beach and mountains are a quick drive away). We've loved getting to know all of Richmond's unique angles.
Perhaps, though, Richmond is becoming increasingly well-known for its blossoming food and spirits culture. The first thing Richmond folks told us is that the city is a foodie paradise. This is absolutely true. So many wonderful restaurants, bars, and breweries have popped up all over Richmond over the last decade, which lends to one really amazing thing: quality local farms, fisheries, and shops. If you want to see for yourself, look no further than South of the James.
South of the James is a farmer's market located near the intersection of West 42nd Street and New Kent Road in Richmond. Open from 8am to 12pm during summer and fall then 9am to 12pm during winter and spring (yes, it is open year round), South of the James features approximately 100 vendors ranging from flower shops and pottery makers, to small local butcheries, fisheries, and farms. Honestly, the amount of vendors makes South of the James endless fun just scouring the grounds multiple times. It's probably why Southern Living named South of the James a must-see farmer's market!
When we first moved to Richmond, South of the James was one of the first things we experienced. Like most, moving to a new place presents challenges, and we found ourselves missing the comfort of Pittsburgh. However, when we first arrived at South of the James last summer, we knew that we could fall in love with Richmond in much the same way we loved Pittsburgh. The farmer's market was so lively, filled with all types of families and - most importantly - so many amazing dogs (we have heard from many people that seeing all the dogs there is the best part).
Theo - our two year old Australian Shepherd - has come to expect Saturdays as his day to go to the farmer's market. It's one of his favorite days of the week now. Not only does he get a ton of love and attention from everyone at the farmer's market, there are also a slew of vendors that sell homemade, healthy dog treats (and they love to give him free samples). In addition, all of the vendors are dog friendly, and most have water bowls for puppies scattered through the market. We've never had a problem with any other dogs there, and everyone seems happy to have their dogs greet each other and generally have a fun time.
In the months that we've been coming to South of the James, we've already honed in on some vendors that we always stop at or things that we need to take home each time we come. Chief among them (and mostly for Nicholas) is coffee. There are a number of amazing cafes in Richmond, and one of our favorites has a quaint, all-wooden trailer at the back of the market: Alchemy Coffee. Since Nick is always in constant need of caffeine and his love of coffee knows no limits, Alchemy Coffee is usually our first stop at South of the James. Honestly, you can't go wrong with Alchemy Coffee!
Since we typically arrive very early to South of the James, breakfast goes hand-in-hand with Nick's desire for coffee. Luckily, South of the James has more than enough options for amazing food on-site! Almost all the typical things you'd expect to find are present, but what makes this farmer's market so cool is the atypical vendors. For food, Goatocado is a local favorite (and a healthy option). Think Chipotle-like bowls, but more adventurous and tasty. There are places that make crab cakes for you to chow down on straight from the Chesapeake as well as BBQ joints that grill up some amazing options if you are feeling meat. At 8am, we typically are on the hunt for two things: carbohydrates in the form of bagels and/or doughnuts. South of the James absolutely delivers here with Kitchenette and Yoder's
Ultimately, South of the James has something for everyone: from cookies to baby clothes to amazing produce. If you find yourself in Central Virginia on a Saturday, make sure you check it out. If you see us there with Theo, make sure you say hi!