Farmers Market opens for season
By Steve Huffman
The Salisbury-Rowan Farmer’s Market kicked off its 2009 season under picture-perfect skies Saturday, beautiful weather and fresh produce drawing a good number of shoppers to downtown.
By mid-morning, the market was hopping, with shoppers snatching up everything from hanging baskets to tomatoes, from free-range eggs to potting plants.
“It finally warmed up and the people started coming out,” said Hunter Barrier of Salisbury’s Country Garden.
Harry Agner, the market’s manager, said he and others in charge of the operation were hoping for nine to 10 vendors Saturday. Instead, they got 15.
“Considering that this is the first day, we’ve got good traffic,” Agner said.
Asked if the downturn in the economy would prove a blessing or curse for the market, Agner said he was withholding judgment.
“That’s a concern,” he said of the fact that there’s little extra cash floating around these days. “We don’t know yet if it’s going to affect us or not.”
Lee Menius of Wild Turkey Farms said he was pleased with the first-day turnout. “We’ve had a good flow of traffic,” he said.
Menius said he liked the fact that the market has, in this its fifth season, scaled back hours of operation by two hours, from 7 a.m. to noon. In years past, the market remained open until 2 p.m.
But other vendors said they didn’t like the cutback, noting there’s a lot of work that goes into selling at the market, and the downturn in hours hurts sales.
Still, most vendors found little to complain about.
“For the first day, it’s much better than it was last year,” said Doug Cable, who operates Joyce’s Flowers with his wife, Joyce. “We’ve got more vendors this year, more customers.”
James Bell was selling creations billed as “fresh oyster mushrooms.” They’re big and do greatly resemble oysters. A 2.25-pound container of the delicacies could be had for a mere $3.
Bell, who works for John Herron, owner of Landis Gourmet Mushrooms, said the big mushrooms can be sauteed and served with steaks, or sliced raw and added to salads.
“There’s no preservatives, no additives,” Bell bragged.
Roger Safrit, another member of the Landis Gourmet Mushrooms sales staff, took a look at the crowd milling about under the market’s huge canopies and said he liked what he saw.
“For the first day, I think it’s been excellent,” he said.