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Chapel Hill Farmers' Market enters 15th year of celebrating local farmers, artisans

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Anna Alexandre, a co-founder of Humble Umbel Farm, interacts with customers on Saturday, March 11, 2023, at the Chapel Hill Farmers Market. 

Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon for the past 15 years, the Chapel Hill Farmers' Market has featured locally made products including pottery, kombucha, fresh pasta, seafood and mushroom jewelry.

Local residents who frequent the market shop for a myriad of products at tents in the parking lot outside Stoney River and Silverspot Cinema at University Place Mall. 

The market has been operating since April 2008 and is open year-round. The market's summer hours will begin in April. It will be open from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and from 3 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays under this new schedule. 

It was founded by the Farmers of Orange, a state nonprofit organization. According to their website, every dollar spent goes back to the farmers and vendors represented.

Manager Kate Underhill said the farmers market has and will continue to stay open despite the construction in University Place and they plan to stay there for the time being. 

She said the market was initially set up to help local farmers and has grown into a great community event for the town's small businesses to display their products.

“You can really get a variety there, which makes it a great spot for our customers to come," she said. "It's always festive there; people come just to meet with their friends and get a cup of coffee."

Raymond Siemion, a local resident, attends the market weekly and said he enjoys the mix of vendors and small businesses. 

“It’s a great mix. It's fun and they’re all local, so it's social and edible,” he said. 

Underhill said the market also offers composting services, where people can bring their home composting to have it collected by the Orange County Waste Department. 

Customers can also use money from food assistance programs like SNAP or WIC to purchase goods at the market, according to its website. 

Underhill said the market participates in Double Bucks: if a person wants to spend $15 using WIC or SNAP, the market will double it and the person will receive $30 to spend. 

Carrboro Coffee Roasters has been selling its goods at the farmers' market for over ten years. Its president, Scott Conary, said his mission is to connect consumers to coffee bean farmers.

He thinks the customers at the Chapel Hill Farmers' Market are the best audience for his goal because the people who attend are also seeking a connection with the producers of their food. 

“They want to get more closely aligned to where their stuff comes from," Conary said. "They want to hear more about the stories of it. Those are things that resonate with us."

Anna Alexandre is a co-founder of Humble Umbel Farm and has been selling at the market since the launch of her farm in 2018. Alexandre and the farm’s other co-founder, Brian Conner, grow over 50 different vegetables year-round as well as flowers and herbs.

She said she attends the market every Saturday and enjoys getting to connect with customers. 

“We have a lot of regulars at the Chapel Hill market so it's nice to get to know them a little bit, get to know their families,” she said. 

Alexandre also emphasized the importance of knowing the people behind the food. In addition to seeing friends or neighbors, customers can ask questions and interact with farmers. 

Chapel Hill resident Linda Cato said she comes to the market often and enjoys planning her meals with the produce available that week. She said both the products and people keep her coming back. 

“The beautiful produce and the care that people have taken into cultivating and making that product available to us, I think it’s really amazing,” she said.

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Cato said shopping at the farmers market brings "good energy" into preparing her food and allows her to interact with her community while supporting sustainable practices. 

@fanning_sophia

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com 

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