Spring brings opening of area farmers' markets
The vernal equinox has come and gone, officially signaling the start of spring. But for many, spring doesn't really begin until they can go to the farmers' market — and that day is coming soon.
Lee County, for example, has one farmers' market, in downtown Sanford at Depot Park east of Moore Street. It will start back up this Saturday and will be held from 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday through October.
Some farmers' markets are open year-round. But most are seasonal, and even the year-round ones are about to begin expanding their hours now that spring has sprung.
Most have also long moved beyond offering just meat, cheese and produce, and now also sell local wines, arts and crafts and other locally-created products.
Kim Wands of Carthage sells bread, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and other baked goods, plus jam and honey, in several local farmers' markets through Our Daily Bread, a family company. It started a decade ago when her daughter was 9 and wanted to get a horse, so Wands, a nurse, challenged her to find a way to pay for one herself.
"She said, 'Well, I'm going to make bread and you're going to take it to the hospital and sell it for me,'" Wands recalls. "I thought it'd last about a week, and here we are 10 years later."
Her daughter now has two horses, and the family has a whole new group of farmers' market friends. They visit the markets at Fearrington Village on Tuesdays and at the Moore FirstHealth fitness and rehab center on Mondays.
When Wands' mother got sick and ultimately died several years ago, the family took a break from the business. But instead of hearing from angry customers, she said, they got comforting phone calls, cards and even donations.
"They're not just customers," Wands said. "They're friends, and we look forward to seeing them every week."
Farmers' markets have, in recent years, appreciated a growth in popularity due to the organic and locally-grown trends. Many markets have in turn sought to become more accessible, with some vendors even accepting SNAP/EBT benefits.
Chatham County has five farmers' markets, at Fearrington Village, Siler City, Goldston and two in Pittsboro. Chatham Mills, just north of downtown Pittsboro, is a year-round market. Starting this Saturday, it will extend its hours to be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday. That schedule will remain in place, at the historic Chatham Mills site at 480 Hillsboro St., until November.
The Pittsboro market begins this Thursday at the Chatham County Fairgrounds and will be held every Thursday, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., until November.
Fearrington Village will begin their market this Tuesday, and every Tuesday until November from 4 p.m. "until it's over," said manager Eddie Kallam. To find it, turn in at the main entrance, on Village Way, and take the second right onto East Camden, following the signs to the field where it's held.
The Siler City market is a mostly year-round one that took a brief break in January. It begins again April 12, and every Saturday after that, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on W. Second Street in downtown.
The Goldston market operated last year on Bellevue Street in downtown from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesdays. It's not clear what this coming year's schedule will be, and it's not supposed to start back up until May.
In Harnett County, the Lillington market is open year-round outside the county health department on Highway 401. It's held from 3-6 p.m. Tuesdays and from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays.
In Moore County, the Sandhills Farmers Green Market and the Moore County farmers' market are held on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at various locations in Pinehurst and Southern Pines. For more information, visit www.moorecountync.gov/index.php/farmers-market.
AREA FARMERS' MARKETS ARE IN:
* Sanford: from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturdays.
* Pittsboro, fairgrounds: from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursdays.
* Pittsboro, Chatham Mills: from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
* Fearrington Village: from 4 p.m. until nightfall Tuesdays.
* Siler City: starting April 12, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
* Goldston: starting in May.
* Lillington: from 3-6 p.m. Tuesdays and from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays.
* Southern Pines and Pinehurst: Various days, times, locations and start dates.