Have you ever visited your local farmers’ market just as it opens? I’m an early riser myself, and like to get out to markets to have a cup of coffee and perhaps a bite to eat while I shop. When I arrive at a farmers’ market, I find each vendor’s table attractively arranged with display boards announcing available selections and prices, similar to the experience of any supermarket shopper walking into a brick and mortar store. Unlike that supermarket however, a farmers’ market isn’t always a permanent structure with walls, floors, ceilings and furnished interiors. Many of our area farmers’ markets are “pop up” markets, existing in a location for certain hours, and only on specified days.
The Durham Farmers’ Market, in downtown Durham’s Central Park on Foster Street, is one of the Triangle’s larger farmers’ markets. If you visit the pavilion at Central Park on a Tuesday morning, you’ll likely find it empty. Return on a Saturday morning and you’ll find quite a different scene. I’ve been curious about what happens before this market opens, how the market comes together on a Saturday. So, I woke up extra early last Saturday morning to watch (and photograph) pre-market action. That Saturday morning, I talked with farmers who woke in the pre-dawn hours (one farmer told me he was up just after 2:00 am) to gather produce, load trucks, then drive to the market where they hoped to sell most of their truck load. After the farmers arrive, they are busy unloading vehicles, setting up tables, tents, cases, containers, as well as arranging products, a lot of activities one might not witness if arriving after the 8:00 am opening.
The photo gallery below includes just a few of the photos I took over an hour and a half before opening (I took more than 100 pictures before the camera battery charge exhausted completely). Each photo includes the time it was taken, to help illustrate progression from my arrival to the market opening moment. Though I was a little more than groggy when I first arrived (just after sunrise), by the end of the hour and a half I was wide awake and invigorated, and ready to shop! I had just witnessed the market blooming to full flower. As market manager Erin Kauffman says, “I feel pretty lucky that I get to see the market every week at its moment of glory and peak of fullness before it starts.”
Click on the first image (top left) below to start a chronological slide show of some of the pre-market activities from last Saturday.
Open year round on Saturdays, with additional market hours mid-week during Summer, this market enjoys a loyal foodie following. Before bakeries like Scratch and Loaf opened brick and mortar shops, their baked goods could only be found at Durham Farmers’ Market. Visitors can shop from nearly 70 vendors (all located within 70 miles of the market), many of whom sell organic or sustainably raised produce. Market shoppers will find a variety of meats, eggs, cheeses and baked goods, as well as craft items. The market hosts several special cooking demonstrations throughout the year, featuring well-known Durham chefs. Kids can sign up for the Homefries cooking classes held during the Saturday market (see the market website for more info). Of course, food truck fans often find their favorite local trucks along neighboring Hunt Street. In short, Durham Farmers’ Market has a lot to offer its community and the community shows its appreciation by returning each week to support the market it cherishes.
Market Info: Hours are Wednesdays 3:30 to 6:30 pm, mid-April through September.
Saturdays 8:00 am to Noon, April through November and 10:00 am to Noon, December through March.
Wednesday vendors may vary from Saturday vendors. Check the market website for vendor information, or sign up for their newsletter.
Shoppers will find ample (free) parking in the lot off Foster St. and along streets surrounding the market.
This market is convenient to residents of Durham.