Waxhaw Farmers Market produces local farm-to-fork culture

Union County Weekly

Photo by Crystal O'Gorman

Through the hazy morning sunshine of an early-April Saturday, farmers set up shop and early risers browse through bundles of kale and shitake mushrooms at the Waxhaw Farmers Market.

Eileen and Rich Hansen of Marvin pick up a bottle of wildflower honey from Berry Bees. They regularly shop for local produce and artisanal items at the market.

“It’s a great place to get local, organic produce and support farmers,” said Eileen. “We love natural foods.”

A mother and son tended their family-owned Mounton Blanc Farms of Waxhaw stand. This is their first time having a table at the market, but they’ve been growing for five years.

“It’s fun, I’ve been growing for years as a creative outlet,” said Nancy Humphries. “I’m excited to meet people who share the same interest in locally grown food.”

Sharonview Farm has been growing shitake mushrooms in Monroe for 6 years.

“The market has been a great outlet for small farmers like us,” Nasi Goudes, of Sharonview, said.

Photo by Crystal O'Gorman

Ginette Morrison, manager of the market, said it continues to grow every year. Twenty vendors were at the market on April 11, but 32 have committed to participate as their produce or products become ready through the spring and summer. Vendors’ products range from produce, pasture-raised meat, flowers, herbs, plants, baked goods and artisanal products.

Michelle Brunette, owner of Silver Lining Flowers and Herbs and president of the Waxhaw Farmers Market board said the market stands out compared to others, because they don’t allow resellers – only farmers and artisans – and all farmers must grow and herd livestock within a 50-mile radius of the market.

Brunette said the market started in 2001 with the help of Union County Board Commissioner Jerry Simpson, who was the agricultural cooperative extension director of the county at that time.

Simpson said former Waxhaw Mayor Gary Underwood was interested in building a thriving farmers market, so he facilitated a meeting with horticulture agent Willie Wilson and Dr. John O’Sullivan, an extension specialist with North Carolina A&T State University.

The introductory meeting drew a crowd of 45 consumers, professionals and farmers and helped establish the market 14 years ago, he said.

The market has been up and down since its inception; Brunette and Simpson agreed that location was problem in the past. Now on the upswing, Morrison said the market has been growing since 2012, and this was the first year that all the vendors would be returning from the previous year.

Photo by Crystal O'Gorman

“The market had a modest start but is growing,” said Morrison. “At times, we invite chefs to do demos using local food and music for entertainment. We are always looking for ways to make the market a destination on Saturday morning.”

“I’m proud of the market’s success,” Simpson said.

Brunette and Simpson share hopes for the market to find a permanent location. The current location is at the corner of Price and North Church streets in downtown Waxhaw, where they rent the space from a private owner.

Waxhaw Farmers Market is open year-round, April through December every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and January through April every other Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Visit http://www.waxhawfarmersmarket.org for more information about the market and sign up for their newsletter to find out what’s in season.

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