The Wayne County Cooperative Extension Service is looking to grow its crop of vendors for the Farm Credit Farmers Market.
A vendor interest meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, in the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office located at the Maxwell Regional Agricultural and Convention Center, 3114 Wayne Memorial Drive.
“It is for anyone interested in being a vendor,” said Jessica Strickland, agriculture extension agent in Wayne County. “They can come, we will go through the rules, the application process, and they can pick up an application packet. They can pick up applications at our office, as well, at anytime.”
The meeting will include a review of market rules, calendar of events and an opportunity for potential vendors to ask questions. Call 919-731-1520 to register for the meeting.
Vendors will pay a $25 annual fee and then $5-a-day rental space fee for every day they set up at the market — the same as last year.
The market, which is located behind the Maxwell Center, will open April 11.
While the opening-day ceremonies will not be as extensive as they were last year, the opening will include cooking demonstrations, master gardeners and food trucks. It will still be a festive event, Strickland said.
The market will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
“Our times, we adjusted a little because Tuesdays (last year) were kind of slower days,” Strickland said.
The market calendar includes a number of special days to let people know what is in season, she said.
Also on those days, master gardeners will answer questions and extension agent Michelle Estrada will do a cooking demo, Strickland said.
“We will have nutrition information, recipe ideas for what to do with that fruit or vegetable,” she said. “We hope we can have some food trucks out in the parking lot so it would be a more festive day at the market.”
Market rules require that vendors grow and/or raise a minimum of 50 percent of sellable items.
“We want it to focus on our local growers in the area,” Strickland said. “We say farmers but it could be somebody with a real large garden and they have extra produce and such that they might look to come out to sell some of that.”
Sellable items include vegetables, fruits, eggs, frozen meats, cut flowers, bedding plants and transplants, local honey, dairy products, firewood, and low-risk preserved goods including jams, jellies and pickles.
“But we are also adding if there are some homemade crafts that someone is doing locally, we want to add some crafts into that,” Strickland said.
Prohibited items include home-baked goods, flea market items, live animals and low-acid canned foods such as green beans, tomatoes and carrots.
The building has 10 bays but each one can be broken down into two spaces, creating the potential to add more vendors as the market grows.
If the number of vendors outgrows the space, canopies can be set up in the parking lot, Strickland said.
“But our priority will be for our agriculture products and growers to have these permanent spots inside,” Strickland said. “That is our top priority.”
“We don’t want to turn anybody away,” Extension Director Kevin Johnson said. “If they have something to sell that meets the criteria, we want them here.”
Both said they were pleased with the first season last year, even though it opened late because of waiting on the building to be completed and then closing early because of Hurricane Florence.
“This year, we are looking at starting in the spring when a lot of the interest is there and the busier growing season from spring through early summer, and we are going to November and close just before Thanksgiving,” Strickland said. “We will have more time.
“Most of the vendors who were here are coming back this year. That is our biggest goal — one to keep working on having the market full and having a variety of things, but also just to keep advertising and getting the word out to everybody that the market is here for everybody to use for the community.”
Johnson said he has a vision of the market as place where people come to and spend time, while getting into a routine of getting local products.
“We want to have a variety,” he said. “That is why we want to reach out to new vendors, and if it is a locally made product, even so far as going and saying if somebody is making like local pet treats or something like that, they can sell those here.”
Some people sometimes struggle to find the market, which is located behind the Maxwell Center, Strickland said.
“We will be having red flags with yellow lettering that says ‘Farmers Market’ — one at the entrance at New Hope (Road) and one at the entrance at Wayne Memorial (Drive),” she said.