Anyone who took the time to read Staff Writer Erin Smith’s story on Page 1A of Friday’s Bladen Journal (“Downtown centerpiece”) would have a pretty good idea of the vision Town Manager Eddie Madden and the town of Elizabethhtown has for the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market.
But there was more between the lines.
Without coming right out and saying it, Madden — and by extension, town officials — are disappointed with the lack of participation at the Farmer’s Market by Bladen County farmers. Many of those are sticking to their promises prior to the Farmer’s Market becoming a reality that, even if it were built they would not come.
We share Madden’s disappointment for a number of reasons.
Any farmer who thinks he can sell more of his produce at a roadside stand on his property is fooling himself. There is strength in numbers — just as folks often prefer malls or vibrant downtowns for their shopping, numerous farmers with a variety of goods will always attract more shoppers.
The town has provided a centrally located, superior facility that offers outside and inside space for selling produce and other items at the minimal cost of just $7 a day.
It amazes us that, on most days, there aren’t several local farmers at the Farmer’s Market with fruit, vegetables, honey and more. If there were, we are sure the traffic would be strong.
And really, it’s a glorious time for farmers markets in general. Not only is this the season for fresh produce, but, culturally, folks are becoming more and more aware of what foods they are putting in their bodies.
Genetically modified is out. Organic is in. Fast food is out. Raw food is in.
People are into reading labels, and are cringing at some of the ingredients: What is high fructose corn syrup, exactly?
This trend toward eating smart certainly has helped draw crowds to farmers markets.
According to a report on agchallenge2050.org, the USDA estimates there are 8,248 farmers markets nationwide, a 370 percent increase over the 1994 survey.
While farmers markets can feature the freshest produce from the surrounding area, they’re about more than just food. It can easily become a central place for comraderie and networking.
Perhaps the best thing about farmers markets is their affordability. With no big advertising campaigns to pay for, or expensive hauling costs, farmers sell their goods at a reasonable price.
While farmers markets are in vogue, the sense of community they foster harkens back to a simpler time.
Away from the commerce, neighbors run into each other and chat, local groups spread the word about upcoming events.
Communicating face to face. Buying produce from a farm down the road. What novel ideas.
From the early summer corn and tomatoes to the fall pumpkins and greens, we hope local farmers will decide to give the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market a chance.