Canceled or Short Supply

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Canceled! This is a word I have begrudgingly become accustomed to in the last couple of months. I would normally be writing this article to invite you to our 10th Annual Summer Extravaganza at the Robeson County Farmers Market, but with all the restrictions in place now due to COVID-19 we have been forced to cancel. Currently, eating food and cooking demonstrations are not allowed at farmers markets in North Carolina. We have also canceled our plans to highlight pollinators at the market next Saturday. Now that COVID-19 has even stolen my article topic, I have struggled to find the best and most pertinent topic to present. Since we planned to be at our local farmers market, let’s continue on this topic and discuss the newest changes.

If you have visited the market this season, you may have noticed a few changes in the produce display and vendor practices. The market has adopted practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in response to Covid-19. Our vendors are wearing masks, and we try to limit customers’ contact with the product by placing a table, tape, or rope to guide the customers in a safe manner. We ask that market customers practice social distancing, trying to maintain 6 feet or more between family units. We have placed two hand wash stations in the market for customer use. We also encourage limited contact with payment by suggesting the use of debit or credit cards with the vendors that are equipped to receive a card instead of cash and definitely limiting the use of change or coins in the transactions. Customers are encouraged to mask up also – the unintentional spread of COVID-19 is everyone’s responsibility.

I am sure most of you have been to the grocery store looking for a particular item only to find a bare shelf. I know I have left many times recently without everything I intended to purchase. My response would be to encourage you to enjoy the bounty found at the Robeson County Farmers Market. Despite the torrential growing conditions we are experiencing, our farmers are still offering some outstanding produce and meat. I would like to make you aware that our market has changed its operating hours for this season. We are still open on Saturday mornings from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. or until the product is sold. Wednesday’s operating hours are now from 3 to 7 p.m., trying to accommodate the many customers who would like to shop during the week but are unable to safely store their purchases until they get home.

The market is also offering a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program this year, and the interest has been phenomenal. You can visit the market’s website for more information about the CSA and the different choices offered. You can also subscribe and pay on the secure website. The CSA is running on a 4-week monthly cycle. If you subscribe to the CSA, the pickup is at the market, located at the corner of 8th and Elm Streets, between 4:30 and 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.

For more information, contact Mack Johnson, Extension Horticultural Agent, at 910-671-3276, by email at mack_johnson@ncsu.edu, or visit our website.

NC State University and N.C. A&T State University are collectively committed to positive action to secure equal opportunity and prohibit discrimination and harassment regardless of age, color, disability, family and marital status, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, and veteran status. NC State, N.C. A&T, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.