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May 17, 2013

Croc’s 19th Street Bistro thrives on being green – thanks to owners Laura and Kal Habr



By Gregory Wright

It’s a Shore Thing Correspondent

Laura Habr and husband Kal have owned Croc’s 19 Street Bistro for 20 years, but it’s only been less than six years that the couple has transformed the restaurant into one that thrives on being green.

Croc’s, at the corner of 19th Street and Cypress Avenue at Virginia Beach’s Oceanfront, is the first certified Virginia Green restaurant in Virginia Beach; they registered for and quickly received this landmark title from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. To qualify, Laura and Kal had to pledge that they would minimize use of disposable food products, recycle grease, recycle and reduce waste, use water efficiently and conserve energy.

What made them go green? It all started in 2008 when the Habrs hosted a pick-up location for a new Community-Supported Agricultural  (CSA) program through Mattawoman Creek Organic Farms – an Eastern Shore farm started by Janice and Rick Felter; Mattawoman Creek was certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2005. This was the Habrs’ inspiration for starting Old Beach Farmers Market in 2008.  To see the most convincing evidence of their commitment to these sustainable food practices, you need only visit the garden planted behind Croc’s parking lot; not surprisingly, that’s where the Habrs get many of the vegetables served in their restaurant.

Laura received help putting her plans into practice from family and friends, and from local farmer John Cromwell, who began selling produce grown from his 60-acre farm in the Croc’s parking lot (the Cromwells have been farming in Virginia Beach since the late 1800s).

Today, the market features more than two dozen local venders, all from within 50 miles. It is a “producer-only” market in the European tradition, meaning that the venders grow – or make or harvest – all of the produce or products that they sell from their stalls.

Noting that the Old Beach Farmers Market is the sole producer-only market in Southeastern Virginia, The New York Times has highly recommended it as a destination for travelers to the area. During the winter months, the market is open on the third Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to noon. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, it is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.

A growing number of organic food enthusiasts or consumers who simply want to buy fresh food and to support local family farms and watermen have discovered Old Beach Farmers Market. They like what they see and they like what they buy. Laura expects 700 to 1,000 people to attend the first market of the summer season, scheduled for May 15.  She encourages all visitors to bring reusable market bags for the veggies and cooler bags for the seafood and free-range meats – and to wear comfortable shoes! Although there is an ATM on site, Laura also recommends that visitors bring cash.

You can find more information about the Old Beach Farmers Market at Many Beach shoppers not only frequent the market, but volunteer to run it. Those new to the market who wish to volunteer should visit the website for more details.

If you demand that your vegetables, seafood, meats, poultry, eggs and dairy products be at their freshest, and, if you want to support local farmers, watermen and wineries, you must certainly give Old Beach Farmers Market a try. Come to Croc’s on May 15 or any Saturday before Labor Day and experience the sights, sounds and smells of a traditional open market!  You will not be disappointed.


By Gregory Wright

It’s a Shore Thing Correspondent



About the Author

It's a Shore Thing
If you happen to live near the shore, you already know many of the amazing businesses, shops, services and restaurants around. But, you don't know them all! This is where you learn about the unique places you haven't tried as well as special messages and deals from those you love! Your community resource to find the local things important to you, online, mobile, and your iPad.



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