As Farmer Foodshare’s new POP Market Manager, last Saturday was a rite of passage for me as I hauled 151 boxes of fresh, local goodness from area farmers to the Farmer Foodshare warehouse in Durham. Normally this weekly ritual falls to our driver, but Ryan had a week off and so it was up to me to collect the 12 bushels of butternuts, 40 bushels of apples, 18 bushels of red potatoes, 20 bushels of sweet potatoes, 22 half bushels of zucchini, and a “few” other veggies on order for the morning.
The day started at 7am when I got to the Farmer Foodshare warehouse, jumped in the van and headed to the State Farmers Market in Raleigh. My first stop was the Wise Farms stand where Gary, William, and Helen Wise were setting up their produce in preparation of a busy Saturday morning. Gary and William helped me load the van with butternuts and sweet potatoes while Mrs. Helen was slicing strawberries for sampling. She offered me a fresh taste and I was blown away by the flavor and texture - if you haven’t tried the strawberries from Lewis Nursery and Farms in Wilmington, you’re really missing out! They’re a special treat that will be available on POP Market’s list all winter thanks to the solar high-tunnels that keep the berries cozy and sweet during the cold months.
Next up, I met Henry from Cox Farm Produce in the wholesale lot where we loaded up a pallet of peppers, cucumbers, potatoes, and tomatoes into the van; it was a perfect fit! I headed back to the warehouse in Durham to unload the veggies and organize them into the walk-in coolers. By this time it was 9:30am and I was heading back to the State Farmer’s Market to pick up 40 bushels of apples! Chris from Whitfield Farms met me and helped load the boxes of Scarlet Gala, Golden Delicious, Jonah Gold, and Red Delicious apples into the van. When we were all loaded up, he gave me a fresh loaf of Mrs. Whitfield’s homemade apple bread! It was just the fuel I needed to get back to Chapel Hill and Carrboro before the markets closed.
I made a quick stop at the Funny Girl Farm market store on the corner of Erwin and New Mt. Moriah in Chapel Hill to pick up some beautiful garlic. The store is open Monday through Friday 3pm – 6pm and Saturdays 10am – 3pm and is always stocked with farm fresh produce as well as local bread, jams, and ready to eat soups!
The Chapel Hill Farmer’s Market is my old stomping grounds and I love running into old farmer friends like Jillian Mickens from Open Door Farm, Will Cramer from Everlaughter Farm, and Randy Thompson of T-5 Farms, who had a bag of mixed bell peppers waiting for me. I made it to the Carrboro Farmer’s Market at 11:45 am (just 15 minutes before closing time!) where John Schoener from Eco Farm had three huge boxes of cauliflower that he helped me load into the van. I stopped by the Donation Station to say hello to the Farmer Foodshare interns and volunteers before heading to Latta’s Egg Ranch in Hillsborough for 45 dozen farm fresh eggs. I got a quick tour of their egg packaging line and saw how carton after carton gets filled! It was finally time to head back to the Durham warehouse to unload and finish sorting produce.
It felt like I had run a marathon of sorts, racing to pick up food from farmer's markets, unloading the packed refrigerated van, and organizing the walk-in coolers so that everything fit. Despite the long day and aching muscles, I know this fresh food is going to make eaters around the Triangle smile during the coming week.
Do you know a farmer who needs a new market, or a food agency that would like to purchase fresh, local food and have it delivered to them? Let us know!