With only three Saturdays remaining before the Vance County Regional Farmers Market (VCRFM) wraps its 2018 season, Market Manager Tracy Madigan urges customers to stock up on fall produce – such as sweet potatoes, collards and greens – while they still can.
The market will close after 1 p.m. on Saturday, December 8th and will remain closed until mid-April of 2019. Rental of the VCRFM is available all year long and is particularly popular during the holiday season.
According to Madigan, it has been a great year for vendors and produce variety. “We had a really good year as far as increasing the number of vendors,” said Madigan. “That has provided more variety and greater quantities of produce.”
In addition to produce, Madigan said the number of regular craft vendors selling everything from handmade jewelry to candles has increased, along with the offering of baked goods.
Madigan reported that the customer count has remained steady at 9,000 – 10,000 visitors despite a surge in numbers during the peak summer season. This year’s pattern of inclement weather, especially during the spring and fall months, may have contributed to the customer stagnation.
“It has been a really strange year for the farmers weather-wise as well, but they have still come through with a lot of good produce and variety,” Madigan said.
Another draw to the market this season includes recent landscaping improvements courtesy the Cooperative Extension-based Master Gardeners.
“The Master Gardeners came into a grassy area around the market that previously flooded all of the time and made walkways and benches. Now it’s a nice area to enjoy and get some ideas of plants and flowers for your own yard,” said Madigan.
The addition of Gavin’s Grub Hub, a food truck operated by owner Gavin Jackson, is also bringing visitors in. “Gavin is a huge draw,” Madigan said. “Anytime we advertise that he’s coming, people show up to get their breakfast, brunch or lunch and are always pleased. He has also catered several events for the market.”
Of course, the best feedback comes directly from the mouths of visitors. “We get feedback all of the time from people who say they enjoy it and have made friends. It’s a relaxed, fun and local environment. I truly appreciate the patronage and support from the community,” Madigan said.
Madigan is pleased with the progress VCRFM has made over the years and said she can see its reach extending. “It is a regional market. The first two or three years it was mostly Vance and Granville county patrons; we are getting more visitors from Warren and Franklin now.”
In the future, Madigan would love to see VCRFM become a full-time operation. “I wish we could get someone full-time and get enough customers to run it six or seven days a week. That would really make it an alternative to fast food and grocery stores.”
For additional information on renting the VCRFM for your next event, please contact the Vance County Cooperative Extension Center at (252) 438-8188.