Farmers Market opens Saturday in downtown Washington

Published 7:38 pm Tuesday, March 28, 2017

It may be changing location but the Washington Harbor District Alliance’s Farmers Market is still about all things local.

WHDA’s Farmers and Artisans Market officially launches its season this Saturday in the parking lot at the corner of Water and Bonner streets, across from the North Carolina Estuarium. From 8 a.m. to noon, local growers, artists and crafters will be selling their handmade, homemade and homegrown goods.

The move was prompted by a City of Washington street-scaping project at the previous location of Stewart Parkway, near its intersection with West Main Street, according to John Butler, WHDA chief operating officer. A change in venue is not the only change to this year’s market, he said.

“The Farmers Market starts this Saturday, April 1, and will go through Saturday, Oct. 28. We’re starting a little earlier and ending a little later,” Butler said. “We’re giving all of our farmers and artisans a chance to showcase what they have to offer in season at those times.”

A single market manager has been replaced by a group of ambassadors — Sarah Parker, Gayle Watson and Jo Worsley — led by Susan Watson.

“We’re going to share the responsibilities,” Susan Watson said. “We’re all people who have our weekends free and care about local food and local growers, and we have time to give. We’re all excited about it.”

Butler said they’re incorporating a new layout to include a demonstration area to host entertainment or provide vendors a place to demonstrate how to incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables in the average menus, perhaps handing out recipe cards in the process.

“We want people to know that every week there is different produce and different options every week, and they could be used in different ways,” Butler said.

For that purpose, Watson has been researching when and what locally grown foods are in season and hunting down recipes, and reaching out to local chefs to help.

“There are (foods) that people don’t know what to do with, like bok choy. It grows really well here but people don’t know how to prepare it,” Watson said.

Ten vendors have signed up for Saturday’s market. Butler said he and the ambassadors are reaching out to invite others to participate and making their participation accessible by starting vendor fees at only $10. He said helping a farmer or artist grow a small business through the Farmers Market ties in with the WHDA mission to drive business and economic development in downtown Washington.

Combined, the changes add up to a community endeavor meant to draw a crowd, as well as introduce them to the Estuarium across the street.

“We really envision a Farmers Market that is not only a great place to shop but also have a wonderful experience,” Butler said.

Those interested in performing at the Farmers Market or providing seasonal recipes can email Interested vendors can call 252-947-1487.