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State Farmers Market experiencing drop in attendance

Posted November 4, 2015

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— Whether it's for pumpkins, peppers or peanuts, millions of people are drawn to the State Farmers Market every year.

However, this year’s edition has yielded a smaller crowd. Every month this year, the farmers market has seen attendance drop by tens of thousands of people, according to farmers market officials.

“Here in the last month or so it’s been kind of slow,” said Jeff Allen, who owns a farm in Johnston County. “I honestly think that a lot of it has to do with people one-stop shopping now.”

In October of 2014, more than 344,000 people were in attendance at the farmers market. Last month, attendance was down by more than 69,000.

“We had less than a 50 percent peach crop and less than 50 percent apple crop, and we’re struggle to get rid of it,” said apple farmer, Tommy Core.

Monica Wood, a marketer of the farmers market, said she believes the construction from the nearby Fortify project could be affecting attendance.

“We get a lot of phone calls from folks asking about how to get here due to the construction,” Wood said.

A record 3.85 million people passed through the farmers market in 2013. About 100 venders are set up at the farmers market; the vendors said they typically see a spike in business before Thanksgiving.

Margaret Copeland, a regular famers market attendee from Roanoke Rapids, said some of the items available at the farmers market that are not available at regular grocery stores cannot be replaced.

“When gradmamas like me die off, they’re going to be hungry for all the things they had that are not available in a grocery store,” Copeland said.

19 Comments

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  • Kimberly Lee Nov 5, 2015
    user avatar

    Having been on the Market for 20 years. I don't believe that the problem is entirely 'Road Construction'. There are days that comments such as "I didn't even know this building had things in it", or "Wow... You're here 7 days a week".......How can they find us?
    With a 33% increase in our rent just this past September and attendance down one would think management would be redirecting some funds to create more activity and interest in the 'Premier Market' in the State of NC
    Visit us at exit 297 Lake Wheeler Rd

  • Johnny Byrd Nov 5, 2015
    user avatar

    Who would drive through the 8 mile POT HOLE on purpose? The numbers will not go back up until they fix those roads. Why they dug trenches to remove old lines I will never understand. I have already had to get front end repairs to my car due to that disaster area and probably will again.

  • Jeff Gameo Nov 5, 2015
    user avatar

    I've been going to the fairgrounds on late Sunday afternoon and buying from the 2-3 produce vendors there. I can park, walk in and buy, and leave in under 15 minutes.

  • Kenneth Gordon Hart Nov 5, 2015
    user avatar

    “Nobody ever goes there anymore — it’s too crowded.” - Yogi Berra

    I especially like going there in the summer for the German Johnson tomatoes that you can't find anywhere else in Raleigh, but it is an hour-long round trip so I don't go often. In 20 years I have never been there on a weekend when it wasn't packed shoulder-to-shoulder with shoppers.

  • moosesign Nov 5, 2015

    Traffic from the construction is part of it.... I use to stop in after work to pick up some stuff and it seemed that many of the booths were already shutdown shortly after 5pm. I've found a local farm stand within a few miles of the house and they were always opened.

  • Jennifer Hulford Nov 5, 2015
    user avatar

    We also had many more rainy days this season. People will decide not to go in bad weather.

  • Doug Smallen Nov 5, 2015
    user avatar

    Middle Man is cut out, so why the higher prices than the Grocer!

  • Michael Soles Nov 5, 2015
    user avatar

    Maybe it was all that rain we had at the beginning of the month.

  • Susan West Nov 5, 2015
    user avatar

    Thank to you Department of Agriculture, being organic is costly, time-consuming, and nothing more than a marketing scam. They are an incredible amount of pesticides approved for organic use. Legally, a farmer cannot use the term organic if they sell more than a certain amount each year unless they become certified and pay the fees. In addition, you can spray dangerous pesticides within 500' of organic crops, so what's the point. Bottom line, get to know your local farmers! Ask them! Learn what's easy to grow without pesticides and what's not. Greens are easy to grow without them, eggplant is not. Fruit is not. I counter that it's less expensive to buy in season locally with the exception of some local produce. Tyes, you;r bag of kale may cost $3.00-$4.00, but it's a HUGE bag! Those $2.00 tiny bags of organic kale at Kroger are small and have been shipped in from California.

  • Larry Hatch Nov 4, 2015
    user avatar

    1) The parking is horrible on weekends so why bother? You have to park on the lawn with big trucks which is fine if you want that huge curb to tear your car's front airfoil to bits. I usually go on my day off during the weekdays - and then the selection is half what it should be. Bigger lots are needed for at least 200 more cars - how many of us drive for 10 minutes and leave with spending a nickel?
    2) Whatever fees the state is charging must be high because prices are too high as stated below.
    3) Organic is an issue for me. Vendors are sometimes evasive on that topic. They say about "natural farming" but there is no certainty of any standard.
    4) Mixed quality. Lots of great produce in the top of a container and half-rotten, old junk at the bottom. I don't mind blemishes but don't sell me your aging stuff from last week and expect me to come back.

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