A Fresh Approach
Farmers Market adapts to changing conditions
As commerce slowly gets back to normal, many are finding creative ways to serve the community once again with a few added safety protocols in place. One example is the Riverfront Farmers’ Market, the original farmers market of Wilmington.
Established in 2003, the market became a success in part because of support from the city as well as the community, which saw the need and demand for a quality farmers market in downtown Wilmington.
“Considered the premier farmers market in Southeastern North Carolina, the RFM (Riverfront Farmers’ Market) has proven successful in fulfilling its mission of providing a place for local growers, producers, artisans, and crafters to sell their goods directly to consumers; educating consumers about local farming and seasonal eating; encouraging and promoting use of locally grown farm products; and enhancing the quality of life in Wilmington by providing a community activity that fosters social gathering and interaction,” says Riverfront Farmers’ Market organizer ANDRELLA CHRISTOPHER.
The Riverfront Farmers’ Market opened its season in early May with a drive-thru-only setup.
“We had talked about the idea for some time,” Christopher says. “As soon as we received permission, we jumped on it! At the time, it was the safest way to provide the farmers’ produce to the public.”
As local officials started loosening restrictions, the market was able to move to the familiar format.
“As luck would have it, the following week we received the all-clear to hold a pedestrian market,” Christopher says. “But, the drive-thru market was very well attended although it was slow-moving … I think people were quite thrilled to be able to go someplace different as well as purchase fresh produce.”
The somewhat return to normalcy was made possible through an offer from Waterline Brewing Company to let them set up the Saturday markets in the parking lot of the brewery, which is located at 721 Surrey Street, just under the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.
“We feel comfortable with the pedestrian market because there is so much room to move around that it’s easy to keep a 6-foot distance when walking from booth to booth,” Christopher says. “We are very grateful to Waterline brewery for allowing us to use the parking lot adjacent to their property.
“It is fenced in, so we can control the capacity if it feels like there are too many people at one time,” Christopher adds.
“I’d say 95% of shoppers are being considerate of others by wearing a face covering. All of the vendors wear face coverings and only attend to one customer at a time to prevent crowding. The vendors constantly wipe everything down and sanitize their hands or gloves. We (also) have hand-washing stations throughout the market, (and) the market flows in one direction with a separate entrance and exit.”
Those who choose to visit the farmers market can enjoy a wide selection including in-season fruit and vegetables, eggs, meat, bread, seafood, elderberry syrup, CBD products, soaps and lotions, dog treats, coffee, wine, plants, jewelry, pottery, and much more.
RFM shoppers should adhere to guidelines put in place by the organizers of the market to make sure it can continue through these restrictive times.
“Stay home if sick or if exposed to someone that is sick; face mask/face covering recommended; maintain 6 feet of space between yourself and others – especially when standing in line,” Christopher says. “We are asking only one customer or family unit in a tent at a time; avoid touching products you aren’t purchasing; be sure to wash all produce before consuming.”
Until the restrictions on city event permits are lifted, the market will be located at Waterline Brewing. Once restrictions are lifted, the market will return to Dock Street between Front and Second streets. The Riverfront Farmer’s Market runs 9 a.m.-1 p.m. every Saturday through November 21.
Here is the latest, as of press time, for how some other farmers markets have opened
Carolina Beach Market:
May 16 – September 26 | Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Carolina Beach Lake Park, South Lake Boulevard
Precautions: Asking patrons to not touch products/ let vendors assist and package; limiting/suspending free samples, spreading out vendors, encouraging 6-feet distances for shoppers.
Wrightsville Beach Farmer’s Market:
June 1 – September 28 | Mondays, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
321 Causeway Drive
To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to terahwilson.com.
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