Story by Lindsey Chester. Photo by Hal Goodtree.
Cary, NC- Time is running out on the land used for the current Western Wake Farmer’s Market (WWFM) located in Carpenter Village. And the group has plans for a move.
The current market location is in the vacant parking area on Morrisville Carpenter Road in the Carpenter Village subdivision. With the housing market beginning a recovery, the land will be cleared soon for new housing. WWFM hopes they can find at least a temporary home before March when their lease expires.
Temporary Home Needed for WWFM
The group has begun to draw up plans for an agricultural park, which will include a new permanent farmer’s market, education facility and parkland. These plans are long range. What is needed now is an immediate location for next Spring’s market. Even if the town OKs the move to the AM Howard Farm now, the permitting, clearing and grading necessary will take longer than eight months. They hope to find a temporary location that does not require development to enable hosting the market tents and vendors.
Long Range Plans
The WWFM made a presentation to Town of Cary Parks director Danny Hopkins in November of 2010 that outlines their plans for an Agricultural Learning Center on the A M Howard farmland currently owned by the Town. Market managers hope Town Council will accept their request to turn the vacant farmland into a park that pays tribute to Cary’s deep rooted agricultural history and local food movement of today.
Kevin Gordon, Operations Manager, told me the “next step is to demonstrate public support” for the project concept.The market’s own business plan shows how they have grown in the three years, both in revenue and number and diversity of vendors. They currently offer an educational component to the market every Saturday morning.
A.M. Howard Farm
In 2007, the Town of Cary purchased the 45-acre A.M. Howard farm and the adjoining historical structures to protect Cary’s agricultural history from urban development. It currently sits unused by the Town. With the Town of Cary in the midst of revamping its Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Master Plan as well as the Public Art Master Plan, timing is good to make a proposal for the undeveloped park.
“We started this market to ensure the vitality of our community, and this venture only furthers our mission to bring fresh local food to those who live here. Cary has really embraced the WWFM, and we’re thrilled with how quickly it’s grown. We want to continue that momentum and create a space where people can connect with their natural environment, grow their own food or learn about North Carolina’s agriculture,” said Juliann Zoetmulder, president of the WWFM board of directors.
The Importance of a Farmers Market
The farmers’ market features local seasonal produce, along with hormone-free, grass-fed meats, local seafood, cheese, baked goods, coffee, flowers and more. The market was founded three years ago by a group of Wake County moms and has grown considerably since.
Their mission is for all people in the community to become educated about and benefit from locally grown food. They are the first market in Wake County to accept the EBT food stamp debit cards. They also donate to the NC Food Bank.
The WWFM board knows that their customers depend on them. They also understand that when they move it will need to be relatively close to the current location- their clients and vendors depend on them.