One of the best things about living in North Carolina is the access to fresh, locally-grown produce from farms across the state.
North Carolina is an agrarian state, meaning a significant portion of our economy comes from farming, including cotton, sweet potatoes, okra, greens, tomatoes and (lately) wine. Another NC agricultural product, tobacco, formed the backbone of several cities across the state, particularly Durham and Winston-Salem.
Because of our warm climate and changing seasons, North Carolina residents can enjoy many types of produce, ranging from potatoes and dark greens in the winter; to lighter lettuces and strawberries in the spring; to heartier tomatoes, corn and okra in the fall. In this blog post, I want to highlight the many ways in which you can enjoy this delicious food as a Chatham County resident.
Fearrington Farmers’ Market
For more than 20 years, Fearrington has acted as a hub for produce from around Chatham County. Since its foundation in 1991, the operators of Fearrington Farmers’ Market have envisioned it as a source for fresh, high quality, locally-grown produce, plants, meats, baked goods, and home-canned goods.
Also enjoy: Love eating locally-sourced food, but don’t have the time to make your own meals? Fearrington Village is home to several delicious restaurants, including the Fearrington House Restaurant, which serves farm-to-table style dishes. The restaurant’s dinner menu is full of delicious made-from-scratch meals, including heirloom tomatoes, grits, and hummus.
The scoop: Fearrington Farmers’ Market is located next door to the Fitch Creation’s Administration building. It opens for business every Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m., April through November. If you’d like to know what will be available from week to week, sign up for the weekly newsletter.
Chatham Mills Farmers’ Market
Chatham Mills Farmers’ Market, founded in 2010, seeks to provide high quality local food to the Pittsboro area, to support small farmers, grow local economy, and to provide an enjoyable open space for the community to gather. Enjoy Sun Gold and black cherry tomatoes from Red Roots Farm or tasty red velvet and chocolate stuffed chocolate chip cookies from Sweet Synergy. It’s all local, and it’s all so good!
Also enjoy: Bring the kids with you to enjoy Cynthia Raxter, a storyteller who entertains all ages with her gripping stories. Cynthia is scheduled to appear every second Saturday of the month through December. Learn more about who she is, life in Bynum and her performance schedule at: Cynthia Raxter, Storyteller.
The scoop: Chatham Mills Farmers’ Market is located at the lawn of the historic Chatham Mills, 480 Hillsboro Street, Pittsboro, N.C. It operates 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday April through October, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday from November through January. Sign up for their newsletter or follow them on social media by clicking here. Each week, check back on the website to see the upcoming vendors.
State Farmers’ Market (Raleigh)
If you don’t mind making a bit of a drive out to Raleigh, you can enjoy one of the largest farmers’ markets in North Carolina. The State Farmers’ Market is hosted by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, and the options are nearly endless! The market sits inside a 30,000 square-foot facility in which you can buy everything from Christmas trees to breads and cheeses. Plants are available starting in March and local fruits and vegetables are sold throughout the growing season.
Also enjoy: The Market Shoppes are home to fresh produce from around the country, as well as meats, cheeses, crafts, bakery items, custom picture framing, a market grill, and N.C. wines. There is also a wide variety of specialty shops with old-fashioned candies, N.C. gifts, soaps, and lotions.
The scoop: The State Farmers’ Market is open year-round from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday — Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. The weekends are much busier, so come out on a weekday if you can. You’ll have much less of a crowd to fight.
Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market
Though still outside of Chatham County, the Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market is a much shorter drive than Raleigh. Products change with the season, so sign up for the newsletter here to find out what’s going to be available each weekend. Fruit and vegetables are a given, but you’ll also find herbs, plants, flowers, cakes, pies, cookies, tea, coffee, and beer — all grown or hand-produced within 60 miles of Chapel Hill.
Also enjoy: Every Saturday, the Farmers’ Market is host to live music by local artists. For a complete schedule of who’s performing, visit the website here.
The scoop: The Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market is located at 201. S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514, and is open 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays. Can’t make it on those days? The Farmers’ Market also offers a pop-up version on Thursdays between noon and 2 p.m. from July 23 — September 10. This pop-up version is located at 140 W. Franklin St. in downtown Chapel Hill, so enjoy one of the local restaurants while you pick up your produce!
Carrboro Farmers’ Market
The oldest farmers’ market on the list (37 years!), the Carrboro Farmers’ Market is comprised of over 70 Market members who sell their locally produced goods each week directly to Market shoppers. You can be sure that you’re getting access to local produce because all of the goods sold were produced within 50 miles of the Market, and the actual owner of each business or farm is present at Market each week!
Also enjoy: Just purchased bok choy, but unsure of what to do with it? Tired of the same-old kale dishes? The Farmers’ Market website lists seasonal recipes so that you can maximize the enjoyment from each trip!
The scoop: The market is located in the Carrboro Town Commons on 301 W. Main St, and is open year-round on Saturdays and seasonally on Wednesdays. For market hours click here.
Upcoming Farmers’ Market Events:
Vendorpalooza: On August 29, Chatham Mills Farmers’ Market will be hosting a one-time, open-market event during which local growers and producers are invited to come and market. If you are a local grower or producer of vegetables, meats, dairy, value added foods, prepared foods, health and body products/services or handmade arts/crafts, Vendorpalooza is an opportunity for you to “try out” operating a venue at Chatham Mills.
The scoop: Not a vendor? Don’t let that be a reason to sit out Vendorpalooza. Everyone who attends will have access to brand new products and food. Make sure to book your calendar for Saturday, August 29.
Old Fashioned Farmers’ Days: During the last weekend in August, you can visit the past, marvel at how things were done, think of all the advances that have been made through the years! You’ll be amazed at the many skills and technologies that have been almost forgotten over the years. The three-day event will include tractor pulls, food vendors, raffle drawings, and gospel singing. For a complete schedule of events, visit the website here.
The scoop: Convince the kids to come by bribing them with some Steam Cream icecream. The Pugh Memorial Ice Cream Building will host a Steam-Powered Engine powering several churns that can each turn out five gallons of home-made ice cream at a time!