NC farmers market has reached nearly 4 million customers in the past few years

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Many people across the country, including North Carolinians, are celebrating National Farmers Market Week, which kicked off Sunday.

Monica Wood with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture said the state farmers market saw a peak of 3.8 million customers in the last few years.

“It was just a buzz word,” Wood said. “Everybody’s looking for Farmer’s Market.”

Wood says many of those same customers are still shopping at these markets.

Durham resident, Zach Marston told CBS North Carolina, “I come here every Saturday and I love it!”

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture says depending on each market, organizers can make their own rules.

According to Woods, most produce and products sold at North Carolina markets are local, homegrown and fresh.

“The market shops area features a variety, features a lot of North Carolina product, but there are a few times that may not be from North Carolina as well,” Wood said. “We actually have a process anybody that wishes they have to submit a vendor application and once they submit that vendor application there’s a checklist that we have to go through.”

State farmers market managers can randomly visit a vendor’s farm or place of business to walk through or to inspect.

The Western Wake Farmers Market in Cary also vets its vendors with a similar process.

“My vision of a farmer’s market is to purchase items that are grown and sourced locally,” Hannah Abdullah, a manager for the farmers market said.

The exception CBS North Carolina found was a vendor whose coffee beans were sourced directly from international growers, but locally roasted in Morrisville.

Cary’s market organizers say their vendors are local, like Nancy Joyner, a certified organic farmer out of Burlington.

“The first person that needs to regulate what is local is the customer,” Jeff Jennings with the North Carolina’s Agriculture Department said. “It’s a simple conversation between the customer and the vendor or the farmer and simply ask, ‘Did you grow it yourself?’ or ‘Where did it come from?'”

To find the closest farmers market near you, click here.

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