Durham, N.C. — Triangle area farmers’ markets are now accepting applications for vendor enrollment. Interested parties should consider meeting requirements early before most Jan. 31 deadlines, and check with local market managers. (The Chatham Mills Farmers’ Market deadline is Feb. 15. and Downtown Raleigh Farmers’ Market’s is Feb. 28.)
This is a key time for food producers and crafters to ensure a smooth transition. Each market has unique by-laws and rules, with some dividing returning vendors from the new vendor approval process.
In example, the downtown Durham farmers’ market offers this opportunity once a year, and vendor selection is a rigorous process.
Speaking with market manager Erin Kauffman, the decision is about more than just rules and regulations. They seek to prevent excess duplication of products, maintain a diverse selection, and have a good representation of area producers within the appropriate radius from market.
“Another thing that is good to know is that DFM keeps their ratio of vendors at approximately 75 percent farmers and 25 percent crafters and prepared foods. So, that means we often accept more farm applicants than others. In the past several years, due to limited space for growth, the board has only accepted a small number of applicants to become members of the market. I anticipate that will be the case again this year," Kauffman said.
Among other considerations, this year market management is seeking:
- Fruits, specifically apples, pears, and other tree fruit
- Turkey (year round production)
- Sheep's milk cheese
- Milled Grains and Flours
- Coffee Roaster
The market is also looking to roll out some projects that have been in the works for some time. Among these is the ability of all vendors to accept SNAP (Simplified Nutritional Assistance Program) benefits. The benefits allow those in need to access farm fresh foods within a low-income budget, and the market also wants to start a “double bucks” incentive program for these consumers so their market dollars will go further.
According to Kauffman, the market has been working closely with Durham County Social Services, Community Transformation Grant and Rural Advancement Foundation International, USA (RAFI-USA), to get the project completed for this year.
Application information for Durham Farmers’ Market is available online for potential sellers at their website for review.
To be sure, all farmers’ markets are a key part of our local economy, and participation is part of a larger commitment to our nation’s sustainable food chain.