The colors, shapes and smiling faces we found at the State Farmers Market
by Catherine Currin | photography by Juli Leonard
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Every summer, Raleighites flock to the State Farmers Market off Lake Wheeler Road. The space is open year-round—a massive, 30,000-square-foot covered area that would be bare-bones save for the bustle of vendors and buyers—but summer is when the market hits its peak. This time of year, it’s brimming with seasonal produce from the furthest reaches of North Carolina; when we stopped in, we found peaches from Dunn, apples from Taylorsville and strawberries from Mount Olive alongside dozens more.
Every day, the Farmers Market brings together folks from all walks of life: foodies seeking peak produce, families going the economical route, chefs and just plain browsers, waiting to see what sparks the eye. Some vendors have been around for decades, travelling from all over the state to sell their latest harvest. Garner native Tonda Claborn has worked with Debra Lee’s Produce for five years, but the farm has been selling at the Farmers Market for over 50 years. “I love being outside and teaching people the difference between store-bought produce and fresh-from-the-farm produce.”
Of course, the market has more than just vegetables. Lionel Vatinet sells his award-winning bread and pastries from La Farm Bakery; bouquets of freshly-cut flowers from Neng Vang’s booth start at $5; and you can fill your garden with everything from hanging plants to succulents to handmade garden decor. One a recent visit, shopper Shanita Dixon from Durham said she comes to the market for two reasons. “I’m here to support local farmers, but also to buy fresh and be more conscious of what I’m putting into my body.”
Once you’ve picked out your summer haul—we love corn, okra, tomatoes and watermelon this time of year—you can head into the indoor section for a fresh-squeezed orangeade or lemonade while you select today’s catch at Locals Seafood. Just a few more reasons to be grateful to have the bounty of our whole state right here in Raleigh.