July 23, 2010

UPDATE…Hatteras Island Farmers’ Market moves to Avon




The weekly Hatteras Island Farmers’ Market will be held on the grounds of Hatteras Realty in Avon beginning on Tuesday, July 27.

Hatteras Realty is located on the west side of Highway 12 next to the Avon Post Office.

The decision to relocate the market from the Fessenden Center to Avon was based on economics.   Vendors expressed concern after attendance dropped significantly at this week’s event.  The new location is more visible and thus better able to attract customers.

“Our farmers invest a lot of time and money driving here from the mainland and they understandably want to maximize sales. Visibility is key to their success,” said Joanne Throne, president of Coastal Harvesters, Inc., the non-profit sponsoring the market.

The market features fruits, vegetables, beef, sausage, herbs, eggs, baked goods, preserves, pottery and other goods grown or made by North Carolina farmers and artisans, including island residents.

The Hatteras Island Farmers’ Market is open each Tuesday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. through the end of August.











June 28, 2010

Outdoor markets bring local food and crafts to Hatteras Island
….WITH SLIDE SHOW

BY JORDAN TOMBERLIN



It may have been an oppressively hot and humid day, but that certainly didn’t stop a multitude of islanders and visitors from stopping by the first Hatteras Island Farmers’ Market on Tuesday, June 22. It seems the opportunity to finally buy fresh, all-natural food direct from local farmers trumped the need for air conditioning, and, despite the heat, the general vibe at the farmers’ market was one of excitement and gratitude.

“Thank you so much for being here,” a happy, sweat-drenched customer said to Nicole Spruill, of Coastal Farmers, as she walked away with an armful of Spruill’s fresh produce. 

Similar exchanges could be heard throughout the day, at any of the vendors’ tents—whether they were selling meat, eggs, produce, or cat food.

The farmers’ market is sponsored by Coastal Harvesters, Inc., a non-profit, membership-based organization that was formed early last year, with the specific goal of bringing a farmers’ market to Hatteras Island.  The market was slated to begin last summer, but due to time and budget constraints, it was delayed.

The group had a test-market last November to gauge local interest, and what the organizers discovered was, basically, islanders really wanted a local farmer’s market. And this summer, thanks to Coastal Harvesters, they’ll have one.

Tuesday’s market was the first of weekly markets that will run now through Aug. 31. The markets will be held each Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Burrus Field (next to the fire station) in Buxton.

And all of the vendors that were at Tuesday’s market said they will be back every week—with an even bigger selection and wider variety of products than they brought this past week.
And there was some great stuff this week.

Roger Forrest and his son Darin Seamon of Acre Angus Beef Farm brought their selection of all-natural, grass-fed beef.  Forrest and his family raise all the cattle on their family farm in Plymouth, and they sell their products at farmers’ markets all over the eastern part of the state.

“I’ve raised cows since I was in 4-H 50 years ago,” said Forrest, who is retired from the N.C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division. On his table was an album with pictures of his family, their farm, and their cows, and there was something very comforting about being able to see where the food was coming from and shake the hand of the farmer who had raised it.

Sophie Benewitz, Cappie Reve, and Corky Rattliff came down from the Weeping Radish farm/brewery/butchery in Jarvisburg, N.C., and brought with them a selection of all-natural pork and beef products that had been handcrafted by their in-house German Master Butcher, Frank Meusel, who has more than 30 years of experience in the field.

The Weeping Radish works directly with small farmers across the state, and though they don’t raise the animals themselves, they aren’t very far removed from the process. They work directly with small, local farms and purchase whole animals that they then break down on the premises.

 “We can always tell you the farm of origin,” Benewitz says of their products.

She said they would be back every week, not only with a bigger selection of meats, but also with their famous root beer.

There was also a wide selection of fresh, local organic produce available.

Owner-grower Susie Harris of OBX Organics in Englehard, N.C., and Nicole Spruill of Coastal Farmers in Currituck each brought with them an inviting selection of organic produce, including tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, and onions, garlic, and more.

Spruill also brought with her several dozen eggs from different breeds of free-range chickens, and a selection of local, hand-picked fruits and berries from other nearby farms. “What I’m not growing, we’re finding somewhere close.”

Both growers said they would return each week, with a fresh-picked selection of whatever is ripe at the time, and Harris said her farm is working on getting a CSA together, so that, in the future, islanders can sign up to get fresh produce year-round.

And any islanders who grow, bake, or preserve food are encouraged to get a table.  At Tuesday’s market, there was a table where several locals sold eggs from their chickens.  According to Marcia Lyons, who is on the Coastal Harvesters board and who also brought a few dozen eggs to sell, there were three locals who contributed a combined 15 dozen eggs, and well before the market was closed, every single egg had been sold.

Brian and Antoinette Mattingly were also there, offering their popular Hatteras Cat pet food, as well as a selection of Antoinette’s pottery, and Amanda Tucker had a tent for her Sew New Again line of upcycled pillowcases and tablecloths.

The Hatteras Island Farmers’ Market will no doubt become a great resource for residents and guests alike, which is exactly what Coastal Harvesters, Inc. founder and president Joanne Throne wants.

“We want the whole island to have fresh vegetables and, eventually, fresh seafood,” she said.

Currently, Dare County Board of Public Health regulations prevent the sale of seafood at Dare County farmers’ markets. Oddly, Dare County is one of, if not the only, county that doesn’t allow the sale of seafood at farmers’ markets, even though it has one of the highest seafood landing rates in the state.

Throne and Coastal Harvesters, Inc., are out to change those regulations, and they, along with Susan West of Hatteras Connection, and a handful of other community members have contacted Chairman Steve Evans about loosening those regulations so that local watermen could also participate in the Hatteras Island Farmers’ Market.

Until then, residents and visitors in search of local seafood will have to stick to the fish markets.

When it comes to fresh local produce, islanders and guests have another option—The Sticky Bottom Produce Company, located in Hatteras village, right across the street from Lee Robinson General Store.

The small, open-air building houses a wide selection of fruits, vegetables, and preserved foods, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

During the week, the stand is manned by Currituck farmer Gary Tranquillo.

Tranquillo loads his truck with fresh stuff and drives down to Hatteras every weekday morning to unload the food and operate the market. Almost everything The Sticky Bottom Produce Company sells is locally sourced. Tranquillo grows some of the produce himself and said that what he doesn’t grow, he gets from his neighbors.

“It’s not easy,” Tranquillo says of the farming, the daily commute, and the heat, “but everybody seems to be happy.”


MORE INFORMATION


The 2010 Hatteras Island Farmers Market will run weekly on Tuesdays at Burrus Field in Buxton (Babe Ruth baseball field across from Captain's Table restaurant) from June 29 through Aug. 31. If you are interested in being a vendor, please read the policy manual and fill out the application, both available at www.coastalharvesters.org. The group wants anyone in the community who grows, bakes or preserves food to participate.

General membership is available for a one-time $25 fee. Please print and fill out the application form, available at www.coastalharvesters.org and send it along with your check to Coastal Harvesters, Inc., P.O. Box 906, Buxton, NC 27920.

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