Paul McKenzie, agricultural extension agent for Vance and Warren County Cooperative Extension, was on Thursday’s edition of WIZS’ Town Talk program to discuss the opening of the Vance County Regional Farmers Market in late April.
According to McKenzie, the VCRFM, located at 210 Southpark Dr. in Henderson, will kick off the season by opening on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Additional Wednesday hours will be added in late May.
McKenzie said this standard opening date coincides with the time “produce starts coming in and folks are getting the bug for spring planting.”
Early in the growing season, McKenzie said fresh produce – greens, peas, potatoes and onions – as well as flowering plants are plentiful.
In addition to produce and plants, the market includes vendors selling handmade, high-quality crafts, homemade baked goods, and locally produced pork, sausage and beef.
Locally produced fresh eggs are also a fan-favorite. “There’s just a difference in the taste and in the texture,” said McKenzie. “It’s hard to turn back once you’ve gone the fresh eggs route.”
When visitors first come to the market, they should expect to be greeted by Tracy Madigan, manager for the VCRFM. “When you walk in, you’ll be greeted by our friendly and outgoing market manager,” McKenzie said. “Tracy will greet you with a smile and help you find the products that you are looking for.”
McKenzie said this friendliness extends to the rest of the market experience as people interact with each other and build a sense of community.
“Our customers enjoy speaking to the vendors and getting to know the farmers. There’s a saying ‘know your farmer, know your food.’”
The freshness of the food sold at the market can’t be beaten, according to McKenzie. “You’re getting something that was picked the previous afternoon and brought to you as fresh as possible. You can find quality products at the grocery store, but it’s probably been on a truck for a couple of days, and potentially much longer. You can’t beat the freshness, and freshness equals flavor.”
Supporting local people and the local economy is also a benefit of shopping at the market. “When you buy here, you are supporting mom-and-pop enterprises, you are supporting someone who is trying to add something to the local community,” said McKenzie.
The VCRFM is currently accepting new vendors. Types of acceptable products include local handmade crafts, produce, plants, farm products and homemade baked goods with proper certification.
The market offers vendors electricity, convenient outlets and ceiling fans inside a comfortable, covered environment.
There is an application process and a $30 application fee for interested vendors. Each day the vendor participates in the market also requires a $10 fee.
For more information about the VCRFM, please contact either Tracy Madigan at [email protected] or (252) 598-0814 or Paul McKenzie at [email protected] or (252) 438-8188. You may also check out the VCRFM’s Facebook page by clicking here.
To hear the Town Talk interview with Paul McKenzie in its entirety, please click here.
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