Visit a Local Market in Honor of National Farmers’ Market Week!

— Written By

Local produce at the farmers’ market. Photo by Debbie Roos.

As demand for local food continues to grow, so too have the opportunities for America’s farmers to market fresh food directly to the consumer. The number of markets listed in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farmers’ Market Directory has grown from 2,863 in 2000 to 8,675 in 2016.

The week of August 6-12 has been declared National Farmers’ Market Week by the Farmers’ Market Coalition. It’s a great time to reflect on the importance of farmers’ markets to our communities and pledge to support our local markets, farmers, and vendors.

According to statistics recently released by the USDA, farmers’ markets and farm stands account for roughly $2 billion of the $3 billion that Americans spend annually on direct-to-consumer farm product sales. This revenue, in turn, supports the livelihoods of more than 165,000 mostly small and mid-sized farms and ranches.

Farmers’ markets strengthen rural economies. According to the Farmers’ Market Coalition, farmers selling locally create 13 full-time jobs per $1 million in revenue earned, compared to three jobs created by farmers who don’t sell locally. Farmers’ markets provide a low-barrier entry point for farmers and food entrepreneurs who are just starting out and/or want to test new products by getting feedback directly from customers.

Farmers’ markets support healthy communities by increasing access to fresh, nutritious, and flavorful food. Markets also provide important opportunities for social interactions and vendors help educate the non-farming public about agriculture and local foods.

Over the past 26 years the number of farmers’ markets in Chatham County has gone from zero to four. Each market is run independently and has its own personality and unique mix of vendors that sell a variety of produce, meat and poultry, eggs, flowers and plants, and homemade foods. The Fearrington Farmers’ Market, founded in 1991, was the first farmers’ market in Chatham County. A few years later, in 1997, the Pittsboro Farmers’ Market was created, followed by the Siler City Farmers’ Market in 2006. Our newest market is the Chatham Mills Farmers’ Market, founded in 2010.

We are fortunate to have so many high quality vendors at our local markets. It’s always great fun to visit the markets and talk with vendors and customers, and such an easy thrill to be able to cook a meal with all-local foods. When you shop at our local farmers’ markets you are supporting local farm families and keeping dollars in the community.

The Chatham Mills Farmers’ Market is open on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m.-noon on the lawn of Chatham Mills at 480 Hillsboro St. in Pittsboro.

The Fearrington Farmers’ Market is open on Tuesdays from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at E. Camden in Fearrington Village in Pittsboro.

The Pittsboro Farmers’ Market is open on Thursdays from 3:00-6:00 p.m. at Main Street Station at 287 East St. in Pittsboro.

The Siler City Farmers’ Market is open Saturdays from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the Oasis Open Air Market at 131 S. Chatham Ave. in Siler City.