Downtown Farmers Market Going Strong

Cary, NC — What started in 1996 as a gathering of local farmers and artisans in the Cary Amtrak parking lot is now a thriving market navigating new safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

President of the Cary Downtown Farmers Market Board, Dan Pike said,

“As COVID-19 came into play we were very quick to put restrictive protocols in place to be proactive and not reactive to the situation.”

Until further notice the CDFM will operate every Saturday morning on the grounds of the Ivey Ellington house from 9 AM – 12 PM.

The Safety Measures

When COVID-19 first came on the board’s radar during the Winter Market, the CDFM board decided to limit the vendors to only what was deemed essential. These vendors included foods such as vegetables, meats, honey, tea and coffee as well as sanitary items, which includes a soap vendor.

“As the Winter Market came to a close and we started the Traditional Market season which is April through October, we carried over the same protocols and limitations plus added several new actions to make it better for all who attended the market,” said Pike.

The new actions put in place include:

  • No kids activities
  • No events
  • No weekly Music at the Market
  • No Chefs Corner
  • Social distancing signs to remind shoppers to keep their distance
  • Rope markers are in place to denote the proper distance to stand between people while in line
  • Venders are spread further apart
  • Empty tables added in front of each booth to ensure social distancing, no crowding a vendor

“The CDFM Board has tried to think of everything to protect both the patrons and vendors as we operate our market which has been deemed essential by both the Governor of North Carolina and the Mayor of Cary,” said Pike, who also ensured the CDFM was in compliance with all rules and protocols set by the Town of Cary and the Governor’s Office.

“We don’t require people to wear gloves or masks but do advise them to follow the requests made by governmental agencies. We have put many protocols and parameters in place and they are working out very well,” said Pike.

The Atmosphere

While the atmosphere at many grocery stores can border on eerie these days, the atmosphere at the Cary Downtown Farmer’s Market remains lively and happy.

“People are so glad to get out and shop at an outdoor market where very few people have touched the product they are about to purchase,” said Pike.

That said, the market, for good reason, has shifted to a ‘come and get what you need, then leave’ situation to reduce potential exposure and to allow more shoppers to get the items they need.

Besides being a happy environment, Pike says it is also one that is cautious, careful and courteous.

The Products & In-Advance Ordering

Dan Pike stands alongside the street front CDFM sign, welcoming local customers to shop at a distance.

Due to it being early in the growing season, the farmers have limited produce unless they grow in a greenhouse.

“I would suggest people get to the market early as the depth of our farmers’ offerings is limited now due to the time of the year,” said Pike.

Current vendors are selling:  tomatoes, leafy greens including kale, onions, peppers and eggs. Patrons can also get cuts of meat including beef, chicken, pork and lamb.

“We have a tea vendor who combines different tea leaves to make amazing hot or cold tea drinks. A vendor makes fresh cheese featuring flavored goat cheese as well as cheese curds and brie. Fresh honey is available along with soap and coffee from our coffee vendor Five Star,” said Pike.

The best part? All products at the market are required to be produced within a 100-mile radius of Cary.

Some farms have made online pre-ordering available for purchase and pickup at the market on Saturday mornings. Check them out at each of their websites to make your orders!

Story by Ashley Kairis. Photos by Hal Goodtree.