We Are Agriculture is a year-long series that will highlight the hard-work done by employees across the Department of Agriculture. Monica Wood, Marketing Specialist, FMNP Administrator and Interim Market Manager for the State Farmers Market in Raleigh, is one of those employees. Stay tuned each Wednesday here on the blog or any of our social media accounts and join us in honoring those who continue to drive our state’s agriculture industry forward each day!
Agriculture is an industry that can capture the attention of children and adults alike. Monica Wood, Marketing Specialist, FMNP Administrator and Interim Market Manager at the State Farmers Market, was captivated by agriculture at a young age through the family farm. “I was raised on our family farm, so I never knew anything different than farm life,” she said. “I was driving the tractor and helping to barn tobacco maybe even before my foot could hit the pedal.” Her family farm raised sweet potatoes, which was actually the very first job that Monica ever had.
As a young girl, Monica would sell sweet potatoes from the family farm to start and grow her savings account. “My daddy would leave the ‘canners,’ or small size sweet potatoes, behind in the field for me to pick up,” she said. “I started by selling to a local cannery and then eventually started going with my brother to the State Farmers Market when I was in the second grade.” For as long as she can remember, Monica has loved building relationships with customers, weighing out the produce and selling it to customers as a reward for her hard work on the farm. “I learned many life skills, including a good work ethic, and gained an appreciation for hard work while growing up on the farm and through my experience selling at the market,” she said. After high school, Monica attended N.C. State University and worked as an intern for the NCDA&CS Goodness Grows program, now the Got To Be NC program.
Prior to her current role as Marketing Specialist, FMNP Administrator and Interim Market Manager at the State Farmers Market, Monica held a few temporary jobs with our Marketing Division, including sweet potato promotion, and worked with the WIC & Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. “To date, I’ve been with the NCDA&CS full-time for 21 years, not including the various temporary positions I held,” Monica said. “I have loved working here and watching both the department and the farmers market evolve through the years to become what it is today.”
The State Farmers Market in Raleigh is open seven days a week, year-round. “Our market operates around the clock,” Monica said. “Something is always going on at the market 24 hours a day, and we never shut down completely, except for Christmas Day.” Monica is responsible for overseeing daily operations of the market, including employee and vendor relations, space allocations, marketing, guideline enforcement, customer service, promotions, special events, facility upkeep, farm visits, product verifications and administration of the WIC & Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. “Along with our staff, I do whatever it takes to keep the market operating as efficiently as possible while providing a safe, memorable, and valuable experience for our customers,” she said.
Due to the plethora of activities Monica has been involved with throughout her career, she has worked on many projects that bring her pride. However, the thing she is most proud of is how our State Farmers Market is considered one of the very best farmers markets in the world. “When I have tour groups come through, people say ‘we wish we had this where we lived,'” Monica said. “Everyone loves that our market offers so much and has so many dynamics all in one place, such as local farmers, specialty food products, restaurants, wholesale products available year-round and more. I’ve actually had people say that our market was a deciding factor for them to relocate to our area, which is a huge honor.”
Although she loves various aspects of her job, Monica takes the most joy out of seeing the farmer to consumer connection that is established at the farmers market and helping to play a role in that relationship. “I value the fact that this market is a place of education where farmers can teach the community and the city where their food comes from,” she said. “I believe that anything we can offer to give anyone and everyone a piece of the farm experience creates a stronger appreciation for how valuable agriculture is in our daily lives and for the state of North Carolina.”
When she is not at the market, Monica enjoys spending time with her family on the ballfield, the farm and, occasionally, the beach. “I love my hometown of Benson and I like to be involved with local activities, including my church,” she said. “No matter what I am doing or where I go, I am constantly looking at or finding something associated with agriculture, as I truly have a special place in my heart for all things Ag. I love to share my knowledge and connect others to the farm every chance I get!” Join us in thanking Monica for all her hard work at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh and be sure to visit them soon and stock up on local goodies.