Indoor farmers market opens at NC Research Campus
By Hugh Fisher
KANNAPOLIS — The autumn leaves may be falling outside, but inside the former Cannon Mills store downtown, something new is sprouting.
Piedmont Farmers Market opened its newest location Thursday, the county’s first year-round, indoor market, at 120 West Ave.
The market will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursdays.
Locals celebrated the opening with a gala, featuring live music and samples of food cooked using local ingredients.
Lisa Wacheldorf, market manager, said though the longtime Winecoff School Road market will remain open year-round on Saturdays, the indoor market offers a new opportunity.
“The N.C. Research Campus provided us with the opportunity to do this,” Wacheldorf said.
“Piedmont is always looking for ways to support our farmers. They don’t have near as many opportunities in the winter as in the summer,” she said.
Thursday, the produce included peppers, pumpkins and squash of all kinds.
In addition, there were fresh baked goods, North Carolina wines and local meats.
Wacheldorf described the mood of vendors as “stoic excitement.”
“A new market’s always a chance, but we thought it’s a chance worth taking,” Wacheldorf said. “We’re hoping it will bring more people into downtown, draw more interest.”
That’s going to be a must for longtime market vendors Steve and Judy Young of Coddle Creek Country Bakery,
The mother-and-son duo set up a table full of fresh bread, preserves, relishes and homemade crafts.
Steve said the new Piedmont Farmers Market location has potential.
“Hopefully it can draw some additional people in that may not come to our other markets,” he said.
Amanda Neese of Kannapolis was one of several who came in. Neese, 22, said this was her first trip to a farm market. She was downtown to apply for a job when she saw the event.
“There’s a lot of fresh stuff,” Neese said, admiring the Coddle Creek Country Bakery table where some loaves of bread were still warm.
James Karriker of Kannapolis said the key would be advertising.
“And I’m not talking about the little 21/2 foot signs out by the road,” he said.
Gardeners, county extension agents and more have to come together to promote those resources, he said.
“I live right here in Kannapolis. It was six years ago before I knew (the Winecoff School Road market) was there,” Karriker said.
Aaron Newton, local food systems program coordinator with the Cabarrus Food Policy Council, wants to change that.
Though not involved directly in managing the market, Newton said the new location can help support local producers.
“They can still grow food, grow flowers and bake bread and sell it during the winter months,” Newton said.
He said that farmers markets offer an alternative to supermarkets, and there’s a social interaction component as well.
For Nico and Allison French, who drove from Salisbury, supporting local business is important.
“It’s new. It’s something that we’re into,” said Allison, while Nico purchased a seedling green tea bush.
“Never grown green tea before,” Nico said. “Thought I’d try it.
“We have two small children, and we’re just trying to make lifestyle changes, eating more locally-grown food,” Allison said.
“It’s important to reconnect with where your food comes from.”
Jill Downing, of Downing Farms, waited on customers in a booth decorated with a large banner and lined with goods. She stood with fresh produce from the family’s China Grove farmland on one side of the booth.
On the other, her brother, Christian Charchol joined mother, Cheryl, in selling his Ghost Cupcakes — covered in a fondant “sheet” with a Tootsie Roll pop in the center.
Also available: “Bag of Bones,” a small sack of long, white bone-shaped sugar cookies.
Nearby, bunches of radishes, carrots, spinach and lettuce waited for hungry customers, a counterpoint to the sugary snacks across the aisle.
“I hope it becomes just as popular as the Saturday market,” Downing said.
More information about locations and hours is available at www.piedmont-farmersmarket.com.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 794-797-4244.