Raleigh, N.C. — The down economy is bringing more people to the State Farmers Market in Raleigh. But selling space is at a premium and some vendors take issue with how it is allocated.
Cindy Lane, with Smithfield Nursery, had four spaces to sell her plants, but due to summer produce, she said she had to downsize.
“We condensed down to half,” Lane said.
During the summer, certain spaces for plant growers get bumped for produce farmers, according to the Farmers Market guidelines
“We have a perishable product that needs to be sold. It doesn't need to be lying around,” produce farmer Larry Carter said in defense of the guidelines.
Due to the rules, three plant vendors this year had to downsize or leave the Farmers Market.
“The growers do know and it is in our rules that after a certain date, that space may be minimized for plants,” said Monica Wood, with the State Farmers Market.
However, Lane says the rules are outdated. A decade ago, the farmers market was nearly all produce. Since then, the plant industry has bloomed, she said.
“We're not a 6-week season. We're a nine to 10-month season,” Lane said.
“Basically, it's been a balancing act, trying to make sure all the products fit into what space we have,” Wood said.
Some plant sellers say, instead of the summer produce growers taking away their spaces, they would like the building split down the middle.
“That's all we're asking for, this half be (used for) plants and that half (for) produce,” Lane said.
“We're open to listening to growers and trying to find out better solutions,” Wood said.
“The guidelines need to be updated to include the plants as a major role in the farmers market,” Lane continued.
Some plant vendors also suggest forming a committee made up of Farmers Market officials, agriculture officials, produce farmers and plant growers so new rules can be implemented.