Coastal Harvesters’ plan comes together:
First a farmers’ market, now a community garden
By ANNE BOWERS
In the two years since its inception, Coastal Harvester, Inc., has made
great strides in reaching its goal of providing fresh local food to the
Hatteras community. Joanne Throne, Buxton resident and
of Coastal Harvesters, set out to accomplish this through the creation
of a farmers market plus a community garden on the island, and the
education of youngsters.
Her dream was spurred on by other communities that enjoyed fresh, local
The bigger picture for Throne is one of viability, self-reliance, and
ultimately jobs for Hatteras Island.
“It’s not just a farmers’ market,” Throne continues. “We need to keep
it local and put the money back into the community.”
The organization’s vice president, Bernie Tetreault of Avon, adds the
ecology factor to the scenario, stating that it makes no sense to ship
food grown in eastern North Carolina to a distribution place in New
York to only be trucked back to Hatteras.
Coastal Harvesters, Inc., which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization,
applied for and received a grant for $30,000 from the United States
Department of Agriculture to develop a blueprint for rural, coastal
communities to have access to fresh local produce and meats.
grant money wasn’t received as a lump sum but is paid to the group as
needed. Reports with receipts have to be filed by the
group, and then the money is paid as a reimbursement of bills already
paid for by Coastal Harvesters.
With grant money lined up to support the project, the organizers
decided to start with the farmer’s market because it required the least
amount of knowledge and experience to put together. The first
farmer’s market was run as a demonstration on Thanksgiving, 2009 at the
Fessenden Center in Buxton. The inaugural event was
and became the building block for the weekly markets that followed this
Finding the right location for the summer markets proved to be a tough
obstacle to overcome. Early on, the first site under
consideration was in Avon across from the Post Office, but it couldn’t
be used because of a zoning issue. The newly named Burrus
in Buxton was the first actual location used but scheduling conflicts
quickly moved the market back to the Fessenden Center, which didn’t
prove to be a good location because it was not visible enough from
Highway 12, according to Tetreault.
The market then moved up to the land in front of Hatteras Realty in
Avon, and it was there that the farmer’s market found a permanent
home. Tetreault says that Avon had more traffic and “if you
group of people together on the side of the road, it in itself is an
Even though it took a while to get it going, market organizers were
pleased in the end as attendance grew steadily. Crowds of 500
600 customers were shopping at the farmer’s market near summer’s end.
There was an average of a dozen vendors selling grass-raised beef,
fresh honey, locally brewed root beer, sausage, and a variety of
produce. Most farmers drove upwards of two hours to get to
coming from as far away as Englehart and Currituck. A few
crafters also set-up displays at the market to sell their art, pottery,
In order to participate, vendors needed to become a lifetime member of
Coastal Harvesters, which cost a one-time fee of $25, plus $10 for
every show they participate in.
Joanne Throne said they ran the show as frugally as they could by
borrowing tables and tents.
“We did well despite moving three times and not having fish to sell,”
says Throne, who predicts that the farmers’ markets will be financially
self supportive by 2011. She is also working hard to be able
sell fresh fish and seafood at next year’s market.
Tetreault credits Throne with doing a wonderful job of recruiting
vendors, most of which travel long distances to participate in the
The last farmer’s market of the year is scheduled for the Tuesday
before Thanksgiving inside the Fessenden Center in Buxton.
With the summer shows behind them, Coastal Harvesters quickly got to
work on phase two of its project, which was the creation of the
community garden. Tetreault describes the garden as a common
cooperative where people will share the land plus contribute time and
effort without any expectations. There will also be sections
where individuals can rent to grow produce for themselves.
“Many people on the island are knowledgeable about growing, but
flooding is a problem,” Tetreault says.
Coastal Harvesters needed a site on high ground, and the group was
delighted when Cathy James donated the land behind Fox Watersports in
The organization applied for a second grant from the Outer Banks
Community Foundation and received $9,737 to start the garden.
money is being used to clear the land and to buy top soil, fertilizer,
a fence to protect the plants from destructive animals, and shed for
Only two pine trees needed to be cut down because they were in the
middle of the garden area. Steve Crum and Hatteras Tree
contributed their services to the project at a greatly reduced rate.
Sixteen pre-cut raised plant beds are being donated by Carol Seaman.
Tetreault expects that planting will begin soon, and members will grow
winter vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, and cabbage. Money
raised from the garden will stay in the garden fund as seed
money. Coastal Harvesters plans to contribute at least 10
of the produce directly to the local food pantry.
The third goal of the food group is to get the school involved with
their project. Throne feels that kids need to understand that
food is just not something that is slapped on your plate.
need to experience how different food tastes when it is fresh.
A ninth grader, Anna Carmen, has been selected to be the liaison
between the Cape Hatteras Secondary School of Coastal Studies and the
“She has a working knowledge of how things are grown,” Throne said.
Joanne Throne wants to see Hatteras as a better place, but at the
moment, she sees the population on the island dying. She
as children grow up and leave the island because there is no local
economy. She hopes that the business of food will help
She also envisions putting construction people back to work by using
green energy to refit homes to be environmentally friendly.
“We are so dependent on tourism that we will lose our independence if
we don’t take a certain route,” says Throne.
To learn more, click on http://www.coastalharvesters.org/