Are You Ready to Celebrate National Farmers Market Week (Aug 4-10)?

It’s the perfect week to support your local farmers! 


by Marin Lissy

This time of year, tons of delicious produce is in season: tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, and peppers, to name a few. But farmers markets are more than just a place to purchase food. They serve several roles in our communities: increasing access to fresh, nutritious produce; encouraging sustainable farming; and providing an important outlet for producer-to-consumer sales. 

Farmer Foodshare works to remove the barriers that farmers — especially small and mid-scale farmers — face in trying to make a healthy living. According to the Farmers Market Coalition, “Farmers and ranchers receive only 15 cents of every food dollar that consumers spend at traditional food outlets.” In order to have its produce sold at traditional food outlet, small farms must produce at a capacity that does not justly correlate with the amount of money they receive. 


At a farmers market, farmers receive 100% of your food dollar. Plus, you can meet and interact with the person who grew the food you are purchasing. It’s a win-win! 

Our farming communities are also strengthened by farmers markets. In 2015 survey, 81% of farmers selling at a market said they incorporated sustainable agriculture in their farming, between reducing tillage, and using cover crops and natural pesticides. The income that farmers receive from markets helps them preserve their rural livelihood and maintain farmland for farming.  

Farmers markets are an incredible resource right here at home, and they help lift the communities that they’re located in. Look for opportunities to learn more about your food and support your local growers this National Farmers Market Week!


Want to get involved?

Visit your local farmers market and chat with the farmers while you shop. They love to talk about the food they’ve grown. Or you can donate or volunteer at a Donation Station near you! Your participation helps increase farmer sales and push more fresh produce into your community.

Read more:

Marin’s experience as a teen volunteer

Longtime Donation Station volunteer Tom Melton on why farmers markets rock

Service in the Eyes of a Teen Volunteer

My name is Marin Lissy, and I’m a ninth grader in Chapel Hill. I’ve been volunteering with Farmer Foodshare since I was in the sixth grade—I wrote a few blog posts (like this one) and even created a “kid-approved” cookbook as a Farmer Foodshare fundraiser. 

Recently, I’ve started volunteering regularly at Farmer Foodshare’s Donation Station at the Chapel Hill Farmers Market. People often remark “You’re so young!” or ask me how old I am. While I guess it makes sense to me that they are surprised to see a young person volunteering, I wonder: why does it have to be that way? How can I change that?


Why are people surprised to see young people volunteer? Teenagers are more often seen as being moody, self-centered, obsessed with their phones, and even trouble makers. Yikes! The truth is, though, that more and more young people are participating in community service.

According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, about 55% of youth ages 12-18 participate in some kind of volunteering activity. That’s almost twice the rate of American adults who volunteer (29%). 

So, how can we increase these numbers for both youth and adults?  

The main reason teenagers volunteer is in order to complete their volunteer hours requirement (25 hours are required for high school graduation in the state of North Carolina). Mandatory service hours are one way to encourage youth and teens to volunteer, but it shouldn’t just stop there. Engaging teens in service activities that cater to their interests and talents can have a positive impact and keep them occupied and productive.


While I can’t say foodshare programs have always been my primary interest, but since I have been volunteering with Farmer Foodshare, I have grown to become quite fascinated with farming and bringing fresh food to “food deserts.” I also love to write, and writing blogs (like this one) for Farmer Foodshare is something that caters to what I enjoy. 

Volunteering with Farmer Foodshare, for me, is a way to escape from thinking about myself, and exposes me to a lot of truths about the world: some people don’t have access to their next meal, especially a healthy meal. Meanwhile, farmers can struggle to sell their produce in order to make a living.

Connecting with other people and working together to solve problems can help lead everyone to develop a strong sense of community between farmers, people who need food, and the people who help bridge the gap. 

It may sound cliche, but I’m always in a better mood after volunteering. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to contribute to people in my community. I would strongly encourage anyone to partake in some kind of community service, whether it be with Farmer Foodshare or another wonderful organization. And if you ever make it to the Chapel Hill Farmers Market on a Saturday morning, make sure to stop by the Donation Station and say hi!   

A Marin’s-eye-view of the Chapel Hill Farmers Market from behind the Farmer Foodshare Donation Station table.

A Marin’s-eye-view of the Chapel Hill Farmers Market from behind the Farmer Foodshare Donation Station table.

New Hanover County welcomes Donation Stations!

We’re thrilled that WECT did a feature to highlight the new Farmer Foodshare Donation Stations at the Wilmington and Poplar Grove Farmers Markets — and so grateful for our Cooperative Extension partners for making it possible!

Introducing Donation Stations: A new way for the community to support local farmers and food security

by Gabrielle Williams 

The New Hanover County Cooperative Extension is launching Donation Stations at local farmers’ markets.

Here’s how it works: shoppers will be able to buy fresh produce from local farmers and vendors and then donate it at a station, or they can donate money which will be used to buy produce at the market. At the end of each market, that donated food will be given to local food pantries in the area.

“The idea is that it’s a win-win for everybody," says Morgan Marshall, the Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent with NHC Cooperative Extension. “So we’re not asking for a discounted rate on produce; we’re giving the farmers the full amount of what their produce is worth. We’re not giving food pantry clients that B-grade, second-hand produce. They’re getting produce that looks like it came from a farmers’ market.”

The Donation Stations will be at the Wilmington Farmers Market at Tidal Creek and the Poplar Grove Farmers Market. They will be there on the first and third Saturdays and Wednesdays of each month from now through September.

Read the whole piece and watch the video here

Donation Station Spotlight: God's Storehouse

by Braedyn MalLard, Donation Station Program Manager


I recently took a trip up to Danville, Virginia, to meet with the folks at God’s Storehouse, our Donation Station recipient agency at both the Danville and Virginia Grown Farmers Markets. I am so grateful for the inspiring people I meet on such a regular basis doing this work—people who do the hard, thankless job of making sure everyone in our communities have enough food to eat. People like Karen, Emily, and Bo (the Director, Assistant Director, and Americorps VISTA, respectively) at God’s Storehouse.

Danville, Virginia, is a beautiful little town situated on the Dan River near the North Carolina border. At one time Danville was home to the largest single-unit textile mill in the world. But as the story has gone in so many small towns throughout the southeast, the industry left, and a lot of folks who relied on those industries to make ends meet were left in its wake. In the area that God’s Storehouse serves, there are roughly 19,000 people living below the federal poverty line and another 6,500 who are only slightly above that mark—making God’s Storehouse’s work so vital for so many people in their community.

God’s Storehouse serves over 200 families a day. They also recently installed a beautiful community garden in the lot adjacent to their office that was previously vacant. As you can imagine, serving so many people each week is a massive operation that takes a team of dedicated volunteers. These same God’s Storehouse volunteers also staff the Donation Stations on Saturdays. Last year, God’s Storehouse volunteers collected and spent almost $1,800 with local farmers in their community and collected and distributed almost 6,000 pounds of fresh, local produce.

I know I speak for everyone here at Farmer Foodshare when I say that not only are we proud to work with organizations like God’s Storehouse to ensure that all people have access to fresh, local food, but we are also humbled by the incredible work they do every day to nurture and strengthen their community.

Bo Maher (Americorps VISTA) and Emily Holder (assistant director)

Bo Maher (Americorps VISTA) and Emily Holder (assistant director)

Donation Station at Foothills Farmers Market in Shelby, NC wins $1,000 Community Health Grant

Congrats are in order!

Farmer Foodshare’s Foothills Farmers Market Donation Station has been selected as the recipient of one of five $1,000 Community Health “mini-grants” from the Cleveland County Healthcare Foundation!

Big thanks to longtime lead volunteer Julie Weathers, whose dedication to the mission of supporting farmers while providing fresh food for all makes this Donation Station so successful. “I’ve always believed everybody should have access to local food,” she told Joyce Orlando of the Shelby Star.

The funds will be used to augment contributions made by shoppers, enabling volunteers to purchase even more fresh food from local farmers. All of that produce is then donated.

From May to October of last year, the Foothills Market Donation Station provided 4,100 pounds of food to ministries like Shelby Presbyterian and the Cleveland County Rescue Mission (CCRM).

“Farmer Foodshare has been instrumental in CCRM being able to offer fresh produce to the hungry people we feed daily,” Jocelyn Christenbury, CCRM’s director of community development, told the Shelby Star. “A lot of donated food is non-perishable, which makes sense when kind-hearted people want to give to feed the hungry. We prepare meals at CCRM, and just like when you cook for your family, we strive to prepare healthy meals for our family too.”

“Farmer Foodshare is a huge blessing to help our kitchen manager fill the gaps with healthy choices and monetary savings to the bottom line,” Jocelyn said.

Read the whole story at The Shelby Star: Local Program Promotes sharing Farm-Fresh Food

Foothills Donation Station coordinator Julie Weathers (left) and volunteer Margie Byars showcase the day’s haul at their table each week. A bouquet of gorgeous flowers from a local farmer is a must!