Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Mike Davis to discuss “Today’s Topic.”
Last week was National Farmers Market Week. It’s a great time to check in with the markets to see what is in season and see how farmers are faring this year.
It’s been a busy few weeks with news and I am afraid I missed talking about National Farmers Market Week, which was last week.
But, the great thing about farmers markets is that anytime during the summer is a great time to talk about what is happening at the markets and, of course, what shoppers can find there.
We wrapped up a series of blog posts highlighting smaller city and regional markets. If you go to our In the Field blog, you can read articles about markets in Sampson County, Goldsboro, Hickory, as well as an article on the Black Farmers Market held in Durham and Raleigh, and the Raleigh City Farm market.
What you will find out is that there is a great diversity of markets across the state – each one unique and providing a valuable community service as a reliable food source.
Many of these are open-air events, which has been attractive to shoppers looking to socially distance during the pandemic.
I know markets are eager to get back to regular operations, but I know they are working hard to space things out and make their customers feel welcome.
Many farmers markets typically host special events throughout the season. These often coincide with the start of a particular commodity coming into season.
We have not been able to host those as normal because of the pandemic, but you don’t have to have a special day to be able to enjoy the freshest seasonal fruits and vegetables.
We are lucky in North Carolina to have a pretty long growing season.
So, what will shoppers find at farmers markets this week?
Watermelons, cantaloupes and honey dew melons are in season, as are peaches, nectarines, apples, figs, pears and plums. Tomatoes, greens, herbs, onions, butterbeans, cabbage, collards, okra, snap beans, corn, squash, peanuts, zucchini, sweet potatoes, peppers, cucumbers and eggplant.
The markets should offer a pretty colorful display.
I encourage shoppers to look for local farmers markets in their area. It is a great way to support local farmers and access the freshest produce available.
Before we finish talking, I also wanted to mention that we lost two tremendous friends of agriculture recently – Dan Weathington, who served as the director of the North Carolina Small Grains Association and has worked for years with the department on agricultural economic development projects. And Bill Glenn, who was a marketing specialist in Western North Carolina that promoted and supported the Christmas tree industry and the nursery industry.
The Small Grains Association is well known for passing out fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies at the Farm Show and other big ag events. Dan always greeted everyone with a big smile.
Bill was our resident expert on Christmas trees and nursery crops, and he knew the farms and farmers across Western North Carolina very well. Whenever a North Carolina Christmas tree was selected for the White House, you can bet Bill was busy working out the details to make it happen.
Both of these men loved agriculture and worked tirelessly on behalf of farmers every day. We will miss them and I know the industries they served will miss them.