Written by : Jane Graham
SALISBURY — North Carolina ranks 10th in the United States for its number of farmers markets, and those who run markets in Rowan say they’re thriving here.
North Carolina now has 217 recorded markets, according to the 2011 National Farmers Market Directory. Nationwide, more than 1,000 new markets were recorded in the past year.
The directory results were released in advance of National Farmers Market Week, which began last Sunday and ends today.
Darrell Blackwelder, director of the Rowan County Cooperative Extension, said there are several reasons why farmers markets are popular in this state.
“We can grow every vegetable in North Carolina,” Blackwelder said. “We can grow anything from artichokes to celery to beets. A lot of states can’t do that.”
He said agriculture has historically been important to North Carolina — and it still is. It contributes $70 billion annually to the state’s economy, accounts for 18 percent of its income and employs more than 17 percent of its work force.
Alan Goodman, who runs the China Grove Farmers Market at the Roller Mill, said North Carolina is “rich in agriculture.”
In the second year of his farmers market, he said, more people are showing up to buy fresh produce from local growers.
“Our society is more educated to the benefits of eating healthy and supporting local agriculture over shipped-in agriculture,” Goodman said.
Last year, the market had an average of 200 to 230 customers each Friday evening from early May through early October. That average is reaching 225 to 300 per week this year. READ MORE HERE