Farmers markets helps "Buy Local" push
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Every Thursday morning vendors set up a farmers market at the Waterford Shops in Belville. But today was a little different, with an increased focus on buying local. "We like to support businesses in our area." said Terry Grillo, Executive Director of the North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce. Young and old came out thursday to check out the farmers market. There was a little bit of everything, from purses and llamas to plants and produce. But the focus this day was trying to get the word out about the importance of buying local products. "We work in seven counties to support our local farmers," said UNCW professor Leslie Hosfeld, "and to create a 'Buy Local' campaign where we have more of our local food in our school system and in our universities and all our institutions in our seven-county region. This effort is called Feast on the Southeast. "We're trying to get farmers into schools and large institutions like hospitals," Jane Steigerwald, Feast on the Southeast's assistant program director, said. "We're trying to get the farmers to work with local restaurants and also educate people on the importance of buying local." Produce wasn't the only local product for sale. Ronald Kastner says his beef business benefits from the buy local push because it gives him better exposure to customers. "Our biggest venue is the farmers market," Kastner said. "Even though we have the store on carolina beach road we do more out here with the local people out here at the market place." Organizers say buying local not only helps local businesses, but the area economy in general by keeping more of our food dollars in the region. They also say it increases access to affordable and healthy foods. For more information about Feast on the Southeast and how and where you can buy local, visit http://www.feastsoutheastnc.org.

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I was there and take part in a other local farmers' markets. They offer a chance for the customer to become aquainted with local producers face-to-face. But, it is more than just a market for the farmers. It brings residents and visitors to a convenient location. In this case they pass by a coffee shop, a local deli and a number of other local businesses. I was glad to find Cartridge World and they saved me a lot last time I needed toner for my printer. The owner also visits the market, does some shopping and of course buys treats for her dog who comes to work with her every day. Buying local helps our local community. Hopefully the local community will embrace and support that concept. Then it will grow.
It was good to see a lot of people at the Waterford Market on Thusday .... however it was very disappointing when all the activity for the ribbon cutting was done and then the chamber and all others involved left after the photos and interviews were done. I wonder if a lot of the people that attended this event even purchased any of the local products, and I wonder if they are regular customers of the markets. I go to the markets to support the local farmers and vendors, they are wonderful and very friendly people.
I wonder why it is so important for the Chamber of Commerce to appear at the ribbon cutting for the Bellville Farmers Market at Waterford only long enough to get media coverage and not to support the vendors or even introduce themselves?It seems to me that they should have at least made an effort to talk to the vendors and maybe even make a purchase.Support? you tell me!!!!!do you think this was just an effort to be seen as(doing the right thing)or were they really interested it whats going on in there own communities? I was there and felt like it was just a photo op.or news blurb!!!!!!
How do we know it's actually locally grown? I used to faithfully show up every Saturday to my farmer's market only to have one vendor "level with me" that most weren't even selling locally grown. He knew for a fact that another vendor there was selling peaches and other produce from Georgia. To me "local" means right here in southeast North Carolina. South Carolina would not be local, so Georgia sure ain't.
Buying at a local farmers' market offers the customer the unique opportunity to ask where the product comes from, "what variety is that tomato?", "did you grow it?", "how did you grow it?". Our markets allow and encourage those selling to network with other farmers and neighbors who are growing locally. Some of the markets allow only North Carolina products. Others set distance rules of 50 - 100 miles for products to be called "local". Sometimes the rules get stretched. Your example of buying Georgia peaches form a wholesale distributor and reselling at the market is understandably objectionable to a dedicated local foodie. Get to know your local farmer. Learn who you can trust. Listening to one producer "leveling with you" about the other vendor may be an "awakening" or may just be "sniping" about the competition. Just this year we had a local grower come to one of our local markets with Pender County grown peaches. Ultimately it is up to the customer to help encourage "local-only" by supporting those farmers who are truly growing and networking locally. Ask, and keep supporting your local farmer.
We produce beef locally, but haven't sold at farmers markets yet. We invite customers to come to our farm and see our operation so they know what they are getting. Especially with produce, watch the seasons. If it is too early or too late for that particular item, it may be shipped in.