Made in Vienna: Know Your Produce
Maple Avenue Market focuses on locally grown produce and meats
A few years ago, Sara and Chris Guerre's idea was simple: load up a mobile truck with local fruits, vegetables and produce, and bring it to places that may not have access to those goods otherwise.
Since they were selling mostly local items, they were able to get into a few farmers' markets and the volume of business increased substantially.
"Last spring things were going really well and we had to decide if we wanted to keep working every weekend for the rest of our lives and our regular jobs, or should we take a leap," Chris said. "The time was right."
They took that leap, and the result, Maple Avenue Market, is the only grocery store in the area whose produce is entirely from Fairfax County, either from other local farms or the couple's own farm, just nine miles from Vienna, which has an acre and a half of land they use to grow vegetables for the market, and also for local public schools.
The market also offers local meats, dairy, produce, handmade charcuterie and pastas, baked goods and specialty items, much of which is organic as well.
The market is one of a handful of local businesses aiming to serve Vienna's locavores, those who strive to eat locally grown and produced food. The "local food" movement is part of the greater sustainability effort--its supporters say that less distance between food and table means less of the environmental impact caused by trucks, boats and places that ship food across the country and the world. Not to mention it supports small farmers and butchers in the local economy.
The philosophy is to know where the food comes from, and the Guerres have personally have met with and visited the growers and partners they work with to stock the shelves with the best locally produced food.
That means Sara, who continued her position at Wolftrap even after opening the store, wakes up at 6:00 a.m. every Saturday to go to the Farmers' Market. It means Chris driving three hours every Friday to get produce and go to the slaughterhouse to inspect the meat.
"The idea is we know way more about everything in here than any other grocery store knows about its produce," he said.
Customer Francis Bevington thinks that's the best thing about the market: knowing that the food you are buying is going to be safe.
"You can trust the food is going to be healthy and good for you," she said. "I have a daughter and it's important to me to make sure what I am feeding her is good for her."
The store sits directly across from Whole Foods, which Chris says he actually believes is good for business.
"A lot of people see us and are interested in coming over and seeing what we have," he said. "We have new products coming in all the time and continually trying to figure out what we can add."
One important thing the Guerres want people to understand is that it does not have to be outrageously expensive to buy good healthy locally grown food.
"We want to make this place affordable," he said. "A lot of people come in, look around and leave thinking it's too high a price to buy healthier food, but the prices are very competitive."
WIth that goal in mind, Chris believes the store is headed in the right direction.
"It's entirely rewarding to at least try and chart your own future," he said. "It's a lot of work and stamina is a big part of success…it's been tough, but it's working."
The Maple Avenue Market is located at 128 Maple Avenue.