ROCKINGHAM — It’s Farmers’ Market season again.
Today is opening day for the Rockingham Farmers’ Market, which will be open twice a week with an informal third day each week until October.
With the retirement of David’s Produce in 2016, there are big shoes to fill, said Susan Kelly, director of the Richmond County Cooperative Extension, which provides support for the Farmers’ Market.
“We’re working our way back,” she said. “We have several small farmers to make up for (the loss of David’s) this year.”
Chief among those small farms is The Derby Farm, formerly Triple L Farms, which is now in its third consecutive year of participating in the Rockingham Farmers’ Market. Mary Kate Lambeth, produce stand manager for The Derby Farm, said it can be a struggle getting to both the Rockingham and Hamlet markets from Derby, but they make the trip anyway.
“It’s a lot for us to get there sometimes, but we want to support the market the best we can,” Lambeth said. “I know people love the stuff we bring.”
Lambeth added, “The reason I come is not to make money, it’s the regular people that we see every Saturday and Wednesday.”
The Derby Farm will be selling strawberries, peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, corn and tomatoes this season, she said. Because of their location in the north of the county, The Derby Farm participates in farmers’ markets in Moore and Montgomery counties, but said the Richmond County markets are the best because they have a dedicated manager who helps the vendors set up and promote their products, and uses a token system that allows customers to buy produce with their SNAP cards.
Market Manager Laura Greene said the market struggled last year, but they have reworked the schedule to attract more customers. The Wednesday market, previously held in the morning, will be open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Health Department parking lot at 127 Caroline St.
Director Kelly said Wednesday mornings were slow for the market because people were too focused on their mornings to take a break and check out what the market had to offer.
“We’re hoping this will be a good change,” she said.
Nora Hudson, of Petal Pushers Greenhouse, said the Rockingham Farmers’ Market is “a place for small growers to gather and show what we grow to the public.” Petal Pushers will be offering “a lot of everything” at the market, including mixed flower pots, she said.
“I think every county needs a local farmers’ market,” she said. “We just need the county’s support … It’s very frustrating when you load up and put your stuff out but can’t get people to come out.”
In addition to the Saturday morning and Wednesday afternoon markets, there will be a market at the Hamlet Depot Park from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. every third Thursday of the month until October, Laura Greene said.
The third Thursday will be the only one that will have the typical staffing, but growers can set up on their own on other Thursdays, Kelly said.
The Rockingham Farmers’ Market will be open beginning today and every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Harrington Square, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Health Department parking lot at 127 Carolina St., and on the third Thursday of each month from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hamlet Depot Park.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]