Research Campus Farmers Market opens
By Joanie Morris
KANNAPOLIS ó It was marked a success even before it started.
By the time the bell at First Baptist Church had tolled the hour, the new Farmers Market in Cannon Village, a partnership between the Piedmont Farmers Market and the N.C. Research Campus, had about 15 vendors set up and 35 or so visitors. Soon, a packed house was on hand to buy produce, plants and flowers at the market, located between Transit Damaged Freight and the Perfect Choice on West Avenue.
“This is just such a natural progression for the Research Campus to partner with the Piedmont Farmers Market and N.C. State University,” said Phyllis Beaver, director of marketing for Cannon Village. “With the emphasis we have on nutrition and healthy living, this kind of dovetails.”
Beaver said agriculture will play such a vital role in campus research that the market will have plenty of fresh, locally grown produce for consumers.
“This gives people an opportunity to plan their weekend menus,” said Beaver. “We hope our local restaurants will take advantage … to feature fresh produce and other things that are sold here.”
She said Forty Six, David H. Murdock’s restaurant on the campus, will now have two sources for fresh produce.
“They will have the farmers market here, and Mr. Murdock has doubled the garden at Pity Sake,” she said.
Within walking distance of several hundred homes and businesses, the market should attract a variety of savvy shoppers, Beaver added.
“This is our first farmers market here on the campus,” she said. “I think the cost of fuel and the energy crisis has made us all aware of how much our fuel reserves are being used to transport food.”
Consumers may be able to cut the cost of produce and other goods available at the farmers market because they are eliminating most transportation costs.
In addition, Beaver said, the market will have educational opportunities for patrons.
“Eventually, we hope there are blueberries here that are a result of our research here,” Beaver said. “This is a chance also to reinforce what we are learning through the universities’ educational programs.”
Lynne Scott Safrit, president of campus developer Castle & Cooke North Carolina, said the weather couldn’t have been more perfect for the inaugural farmers market on the campus. While excited about the market, Safrit echoed Beaver’s thoughts.
“It’s just another way for us to bring people in and learn about nutrition,” Safrit said. “It emphasizes Mr. Murdock’s vision of teaching people about healthy eating and about fruits and vegetables.”
She said the opening day crowd, along with the number of vendors “is a nice start” to growing the farmers market at the campus.
Kannapolis resident Fran Black Holland, who routinely visits the farmers market on Winecoff School Road in Kannapolis every Saturday morning, said the new farmers market will have to become a weekly trip as well.
“I just think it is so wonderful,” said Holland. “Today, I was able to buy from (Barbee Farms) tomatoes he had just picked, romaine lettuce, radishes, a long hot pepper to go with my tomatoes, small red and white potatoes and this pointed-head cabbage that is so tender. …
“The Barbees are just so wonderful,” she added. She came early to have her pick of the produce and see the crowd gather. “I just love it, and I love the atmosphere. We have great friends at the farmers market.”
David Goforth, an extension agent with the N.C. Cooperative Extension-Cabarrus County and organizer of the Piedmont Farmers Market, said the market looks to be successful.
“I think it’s working out good so far for the farmers and the consumers,” Goforth said, looking at the crowd gathered at about 4:30 p.m.
He said many of the vendors at the campus farmers market were current vendors, but they had picked up a couple of new vendors with the opening of the latest market.
“It’s got to make the customers happy, the vendors happy and the community happy,” said Goforth. “I’m pleased to participate with them, really.”
Debbie Tuck came to the market from Salisbury to see if she could buy limes with her daughter, Allie, 4. There were no limes, but Tuck did enjoy the music and weather.
“I think it’s great,” she said of the market. “The vegetables look really fresh.”
Tuck said she was in the Village shopping at the Brass Exchange when she saw a flier for the market and decided to come.
The market will be open on Thursdays from 4-7 p.m. through October.
“With the research that’s going on at the N.C. Research Campus, hopefully part of that research will give us plants that have longer growing seasons,” Beaver said. If that happens, patrons can plan on shopping at the farmers market beyond October some day.
Contact Joanie Morris at 704-932-3336 or email@example.com.