To say that the Farm Credit Farmers Market in Goldsboro has had an eventful first three years would be a gross understatement.
From delays to hurricanes and global pandemics, the market has had a lot to contend with since it opened in June of 2018. After its opening was pushed back due to construction delays, the market enjoyed just a few months of operation before Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Michael hit eastern North Carolina back-to-back, and the market was closed to serve as a distribution center.
“That lasted for some time, and at that point it was just too late to reopen that year,” said Joyce McLamb, manager.
Despite a rocky start, the market found its stride in 2019. Opening in April of that year, the market began with five vendors and ran straight through the year until early December. A solid 2019 set the market up to really take off in 2020, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had a very successful year,” McLamb said. “We started with about five vendors last year, and this year throughout the summer we’ve had around 30 vendors.”
The Farm Credit Farmers Market has two primary types of vendors: produce and hand-made crafts. The produce section has grown substantially in just a few years, and now offers everything from peppers, corn and squash to fruits, pecans and more. McLamb credited the market’s local feel for helping it grow so quickly.
“It’s fresh produce and it’s local. We have a lot of regulars that come out consistently, and we’re also still having people come out who are saying this is their first time. That’s awesome, because it tells me that the word is still being spread,” she said. “It’s a good friendly atmosphere here. Everybody here helps each other, if a vendor pulls up and finishes unloading and another pulls up, he’ll go help them unload too. There’s a lot of good teamwork.”
The market is open Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. After Labor Day, the market will cut out its Thursday hours and operate only on Friday and Saturday, McLamb said.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing, the market has had to adapt in order to make sure everyone stays safe. Masks are encouraged, McLamb said, and most people do choose to wear them. Staff have also placed markers on the floor in front of the vendors to show customers where to stand in order to maintain social distancing.
After such a busy few years, McLamb still has some goals for the market.
“Eventually I would love to see another building, and if it’s not another building then I would like for our vendors who are outside to have some type of shelter or a pavilion,” McLamb said. “If I have to put some of them away from the building into the parking lot, we don’t have electrical hookups there so they can’t plug in a fan. A good shelter with electrical outlets would be awesome.”
McLamb encouraged anyone interested to come see what the vendors have created.
“Each vendor who comes out to sell brings what they are passionate about. Whether it’s produce or baked items or whatever it may be, it’s what they’ve put time in to,” she said. “A farmer doesn’t mind getting his hand dirty in the garden and bring his produce to market, because that’s what he loves. That’s what I really admire about the vendors, they’re doing what they love.”
The Farm Credit Farmers Market is located behind the Maxwell Regional Agricultural Center at 3114 Wayne Memorial Drive, Goldsboro. For more information, contact the Wayne County Cooperative Extension at 919-731-1520.