Every week, local farmers and artisans set up shop at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market to sell homemade goods, homegrown produce, meat and more.
The market, located in the Carrboro Town Commons, is open seasonally on Wednesdays and on Saturdays year-round. It has been a staple in the community since 1977 and has grown to accommodate more than 75 vendors.
The market’s mission is simple: support local farmers and benefit the community by providing access to locally-raised food.
“We’re what’s called a producers-only market, which means that the only people who can come and sell at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market are folks that directly produce or grow their own products,” Maggie Funkhouser, the market's manager, said. “Everything that the producers bring has to be grown or produced within 50 miles of Carrboro.”
Eliza MacLean is the owner of Cane Creek Farm, a farm that raises pigs and other livestock in the heart of Saxapahaw, N.C. She said she has been a vendor at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market for 20 years.
“The best products come here and there’s no middleman, so they’re a really good price,” MacLean said. “It’s a really good value for what you can get here.”
There's a wide variety of products sold at the market, so customers can get anything from freshly grown produce to handmade goods.
Soul Cocina, a plant-based and Latin-inspired business, sells pre-made meals at the market. Ae Bugger, an employee there, said they have been working there for almost two years and enjoy the atmosphere of the market.
“You’re surrounded by abundance,” Bugger said. “You’re surrounded by people who care about the food that they eat and they want to be able to talk to the people who make it and hear the story behind it.”
Salem Handy, a senior at UNC, said she has only been to the market twice but hopes to make it a regular shopping experience as she learns to cook for herself more.
Business owners are on-site at the market each week. MacLean said this allows customers to ask about the farming practices used or suggestions on how to best prepare food.
“I think it's just a very much more interactive and sort of empowering environment for both the grower and the consumer,” she said.
In order to make nutrition more accessible for all community members, Carrboro Farmers’ Market accepts payments made with Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, which are provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This federal food assistance program makes purchasing nutritional foods more affordable.
Funkhouser said the market has a program called Double Bucks, where people who use SNAP/EBT cards can get a dollar-for-dollar match on purchases made at the farmers’ market.
“Not a lot of students know that they may be eligible to apply for SNAP EBT,” Laura Perez, assistant manager at the market, said. “It’s a great way to support yourself and your nutrition while you’re in college.”
The market worked hard to adapt and remain open during COVID-19.
MacLean said many vendors made more money in 2020 than in years prior. After pausing special events because of the pandemic, the market is back to hosting some of its most popular events such as Tomato Day, an entire day dedicated to locally grown tomatoes.
“It was really nice to dive in and be able to help the market stay open during such a volatile time and be able to implement different strategies that we've learned from the Orange County Department of Health, from the state, from the country,” Perez said.
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