I’m off this morning to visit with my wonderful colleagues in North Carolina. Sarah Blacklin of the Carrboro Farmers Market has invited me to interrupt her very busy work schedule to talk about evaluation, federal benefit programs and (maybe) assisting in convening the North Carolina markets so that they can share more fully and learn from each other’s excellent examples.
I originally went to Carrboro in 2006 when Sheila (the then market manager) invited me to take part in their Katrina gumbo fundraiser which was to benefit my own New Orleans farmers markets. It was such a great idea. They asked 5 restaurants to make their own version of gumbo and then sold each for 1 hour at a time at the market. Sold out or not, they went to the next one at the top of the hour with much fanfare (they ripped off the previous name and uncovered the upcoming with great cheers.) Of course, they almost all sold out and people hung around to get their favorites, not knowing which hour each would be sold. They raised over 6000.00 for my markets and vendors!
The market had over 5500 shoppers that day (not an unusual number for this excellent market) and their support was so genuine and warm that I have always considered the Carrboro Farmers Market (CFM) to be the sister market to Crescent City Farmers Market (CCFM) and whenever I can go and see their excellent work and the nearby Durham Farmers Market market, I go.
I am very lucky to be working with so many state and national leaders – I am honored to be asked to help them figure things out for their markets – but I will always save some of my time for those individual market leaders who inspire me with their own local vision and joie de vivre.