Shopping local. Sustainability. Community.
Those values can be found in one place every Saturday this time of year – a farmers market.
It’s a place where vendors from across the region showcase goods they’ve worked hard to produce over the last several months. And for the customers, it’s where their dollars might stretch a little further while giving back to a neighbor.
Though Davidson’s downtown market runs 12 months a year, the Huntersville Growers’ Market starts its 2019 season Saturday, May 11. For the first time, the town is having it in Veterans Park at Main & Maxwell, less than a half-mile down the road from its previous setting at Huntersville Elementary School.
Here’s a peek into what the lake area’s farmers markets offer, from specialty vendors to special cooking demonstrations and live music.
With the most vendors of any local market, the 11-year-old Davidson Farmers Market features only vendor-produced items. And all the vendors come from within a 100-mile radius of town.
Some of those include Green Thumb Gardens of Concord, which provides all types of greens; Mooresville’s Coddle Creek Farms, which produces honey; and from right down the road at Davidson Green School, with its aquaponic herbs, healing balm and tea.
The market, according to its mission statement, provides locally grown food, educates the public about nutrition and the importance of eating locally grown foods, and offers musical entertainment, special events and cooking, and other demonstrations to create a community festival for the town. Its goal is to create a vibrant community gathering place with locally grown agricultural and horticultural products, and family-friendly educational, musical and entertainment activities.
Not only does the market rely on its vendors, but a team of volunteers as well. Help is needed to set up tents, signs and banners; track the number of customers visiting each week; serve as an ambassador inside the welcome tent; take pictures; and clean up.
For more information on the Davidson Farmers Market and a full list of vendors, visit davidsonfarmersmarket.org.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Huntersville Growers’ Market aims to provide locally grown food products, sustain farmers in Huntersville and surrounding areas and strengthen a sense of community.
Huntersville Assistant Events Coordinator Tyler Lowe calls it “Huntersville’s idea of a city’s farmers market.” And all of the vendors provide organic and non-chemically altered produce and meat.
It’s where vendors and customers can get tips from market manager Matt Hughett – known to most as Chef Matt. Hughett operates a catering business, but offers sample dishes comprised of market goods each Saturday that align with that week’s theme.
“It’s more than just shopping,” Hughett said. “The fun part for me, more often that not, I try to sample something most people are not familiar with.”
For Strawberries Day May 18, he will offer strawberry-related recipes. For the June 15 Father’s Day celebration, Hughett will be grilling meat samples using local beer.
“In any kind of retail environment, that’s what you aim for,” Hughett said. “To really make a good environment, you need to engage people, and tasty treats help too.”
The popular days, Hughett said, are the Little Chef’s Day and the finale, which is Waffle Day.
To add to the ambience of the market in downtown Huntersville, the Charlotte Folk Society will provide live music beginning with the May 18 market and through the rest of the season.
For opening day May 11, Hughett will be cooking breakfast in honor of National Egg Month, while music, face painting and balloon twisters also will be onsite.
To see which fruits and veggies are in season locally, there is a chart on the market’s website that is a guide to choosing the best-tasting produce. According to the chart, two of the state’s prized agriculture products – sweet potatoes and peanuts – are always in season.
Lincoln County’s farmers market season began April 6 with the opening of three markets serving Denver and Lincolnton.
They feature fresh local produce, meats, baked goods, plants and items from local artisans such as soaps, pottery and other crafts. The markets are open to growers/producers from Lincoln and the surrounding counties of Burke, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell and Mecklenburg.
Among the vendors are Lincolnton’s Clearview Farms, which raises its animals without antibiotics or hormones and produces grass-fed beef. Then there’s Gales Farm in western Lincoln County, which offers home-grown tomatoes, including the heirloom Cherokee purple. Gales Farm also provides squash, cucumbers, okra, beets, potatoes and corn.
“Among the many rewarding aspects of Lincoln County Farmers Market are the relationships that develop,” the county says on its website. “Shoppers get to know the people who provide their food, and vendors meet the community they nourish. Each week at our market, small family farms and small businesses come to our markets, offering smiles, samples, recipes and an incredible array of local foods and quality handmade goods.”
For more information or to become a vendor, visit lincolncountyfarmersmarket.com.
The farmer’s market in Mooresville has been put on hold this year due to renovation work at Liberty Park. The town’s website satys the Music on Main series may offer fresh produce as an alternative, but none was sold at the season’s first concert May 3.
– Matt Chapman also contributed to this story.