Wednesday, August 14, 2013

They Grow More Than Vegetables at the Rocky Mount Farmers' Market

Two years ago, almost to the day, I moved to Rocky Mount.  Came to a house I had never seen, a people I didn't know in a town that had no reason to care about me.  Just another move, another house, another year.

My family quickly found the Farmers' Market and I applied to the craft committee to sell my homemade soap.  You see, the folks at the Rocky Mount Farmers' Market are committed to ensuring that the things sold there are really local.  Your hard earned money goes directly into the hands of the person across the table.  You can ask questions about what you buy.

Take grits for example.  I never knew a thing about grits (did I mention I am not from around here?) until I got to know Carol.  Carol and I talk about more than grits, we discuss beaches, art, music and travel.  By the way, if Carol is there with the Carolina Grits, don't ponder your purchase very long or you will find the crate empty.

One fall Saturday, I set up my soap, put on my reserved smile and tried not to scream, "I'm not from around here!"  Rena, the other woman who sells soap, came over to my spot.  She has beautiful soap and even more beautiful eyes.  We talked. Then I bought some calendula from her, the first of many purchases.  So much for competition.

I feel for the market manager and his task of herding all of our wares and opinions into our spaces but I know his secret.  He is watching out for all of us at the market, making sure that we are all well cared for.  When the weather turns cold, he creates space where there is none so that we can all fit into the warm, main building.  He makes a person feel easy, like you should on a Saturday in the South.

Recently, I bought a loaf of Magie's bread.  All seven ingredients are listed.  They are all recognizable things like yeast, spring wheat flour, and butter.  My kids eat that bread instead of chips and many Friday evenings have seen heated discussions about what kind to buy the next morning.

The truth is, I didn't mean to find my friends at the farmers' market.  But there they are.  There is the joyful woman who gave my daughter a small pot of "hen and biddies" and Michael with his collard shirts and I did not spell that wrong.  I will never forget the quiet integrity of Mr. H and his honey and how his unfiltered beeswax makes the best lotion cake ever.  That beeswax could make a donkey's hoof look like she'd gone for a french pedicure.

My sweet friend Angie and her pecan chewies and if that wasn't enough her lovely daughter had to go and get her started on that ultimate chocolatey death thing, and it is so good I think every piece added a year to my life.  Drury Lane sells amazing breakfast bars and you get humor with every purchase.  Kellie and her husband bring lettuce and peppers and pottery from the microfarm and her beautiful voice spoke encouragement to me once when I dared whisper about my dreams of writing.

Great, I am crying now and you folks from Rocky Mount weren't supposed to make me cry because I want to go back home and I'm not from around here!

No one knows home better than you.

You people who were so generous with the work of your hands and your happy hearts, you know that when the door opens I have to go back to my people but you had to go and grow my heart here.  Now my heart will break for you too and it was just supposed to be a farmers' market but instead it is a gathering of friends.

I don't think it's like this everywhere.  I think it's special here.

So go to the market.

Grab a twenty or whatever and pick up some fresh produce and eat it when you get home.  Get some cranberry honey this fall from Gardenbees for your biscuits or hot tea.  Pick up an organic roasting chicken or some seafood driven in from the coast and celebrate who you are and your friends, old and new.

They grow more than vegetables at the Rocky Mount Farmers' Market, they grow hearts.

Interesting Farmers' Market Facts:
  • The people who sell baked goods at the market are required to have a kitchen inspection.
  • Farmers who sell produce have their scales certified for accuracy every year.
  • Baked goods have a list of ingredients.
  • The market isn't just for groceries.  You will find pottery, beautifully bottled vinegar, quilts, plants, information on gardening, freshly cut flowers and the occasional live band or car show.

Farmers' Market Challenge:
Consider trying to buy most of your gifts at the market this year.  Our family did it last Christmas and it was a big hit.  Red pepper vinegar for someone who likes spice, a lovely bowl or chicken roaster, a scarf, a handwoven basket or beautiful woodwork.  Make a fruit or vegetable basket or pick up a beautiful piece of handmade jewelry.  Not every vendor or farmer is there every Saturday so come often to see new things.

This story was originally published on the Rise Rocky Mount: Our People, Our Stories Facebook site.  If you have a story about life in Rocky Mount that you would like to share, check out the Facebook site listed below or email Lori Harris at

Facebook pages:
Traveler In My Own Backyard
RISE Rocky Mount: Our People, Our Stories
Rocky Mount Farmers' Market

Other posts you might like:
Before we found out we were moving...Heavy, Heavy July
When your heart is one place and your life another...The Great In-Between
Friends...Iron Sharpens Iron...I wanna be like you...

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