north carolina farmers marketTake a trip to one of North Carolina’s 250-plus farmers markets, and you’re in for a treat. Not only will you find fresh, local produce straight from the farmer who grew it, but at many markets, you’ll also find live music, delicious baked goods, blooming flowers, meats, cheeses, artisan crafts and much more.

Craig Reed, director of events for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, says the Raleigh Downtown Farmers Market attracts more than 1,500 people each week.

“On average we have about 32 to 38 vendors each week at the market. It runs May through September every year and features a wide variety of vendors,” he says. “Everything from farmers, bakers and local restaurants on-site to ice cream, granola, crafts and more.

We try to incorporate local nonprofits, when we can, to have a table or booth.”

Reed says farmers markets benefit both the farmer and consumer, serving as the perfect place for consumers to directly connect to growers, putting a face behind their food.

“It helps people understand the actual supply chain of where food comes from and how the process works,” he says. “The producers have another place to sell their products and market their actual farms to consumers. Beyond

the farmers, it’s a marketing opportunity for all the other types of vendors we have each week. It’s low cost to be involved but has high returns due to the high foot traffic.”

The Raleigh Downtown Farmers Market is just one of many in the

state, ranging in size, offerings and availability, with some markets open year round.

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Another thing farmers markets help with is teaching consumers about the true seasonality of food. Although strawberries are available in grocery stores throughout the year, their true peak season is in the spring from late April to mid- June. You’ll find apples at the markets beginning in September, but they will only be available in September and October. North Carolina farmers markets and the vendors aim to teach consumers to eat seasonally, giving them the opportunity to taste produce when nature intended it to be eaten.

To find the market nearest to you, see a full listing at ncfarmfresh.com.