Farmers Market location set for Mill Creek General Store

By Jessica Johnson

March 17, 2014

The Mount Airy Farmers Market will take place in the parking lot of Mill Creek General Store this year, every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. from April 22 to Sept. 30. Mill Creek General Store is located at 531 W. Pine Street, Suite 200, in Mount Airy.

The announcement of the new location was made during a recent farmer’s market vendor meeting, where registration was taken for the county’s three farmer’s markets —Dobson, Elkin, and Mount Airy.

Surry County Extension Agent Joanna Radford said there was a good turnout at the meeting, with new faces in the crowd as well, and two certified organic growers signed up this year.

The farmers market was held in the parking lot adjacent to the Mount Airy Post Office last year, after moving from its previous location at the Reeves Community Center Parking lot. The post office parking lot was closed in early January due to potholes and other asphalt issues. Although resurfacing was approved in October of last year, USPS financial conditions caused the project to be cancelled until further notice. This left the extension office scrambling for a new farmers market location for Mount Airy.

Main Street Coordinator Lizzie Morrison had previously expressed hope the farmers market would continue to operate in the downtown area, and Mount Airy Downtown board members discussed the possibility that it could be held at the new Virginia Street parking lot last week.

The announcement of the new location at Mill Creek General Store was met with excitement at a recent farmers market meeting, with the store itself already known in Surry County for offering fresh foods. It has also become a draw for visitors to the area, with tour buses often spotted in the parking lot.

Surry County Extension Center Agent Joanna Radford said the new location is centrally located in Mount Airy, with enough parking for vendors and customers.

The Dobson Farmers Market is a new addition this year, and for the first season the market will be held in Dobson Town Square, in the yard of the old courthouse building. The Dobson market starts on May 1 and will be held each Thursday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Radford said the Dobson market will be moved next year to farmers market vendor shelters the town will construct at the new Dobson Square Park, which will be located at the intersection of South Crutchfield and West Atkins Street. The park is scheduled to be finished in November of this year, but Radford said the town of Dobson wanted to go ahead and start the farmers market this year.

“It’s exciting they are building the shelters for the farmers market in the new park,” Radford said.

The Elkin Farmers Market begins on April 19 and will be held each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Town Hall Parking Lot, which is the same location it has been in for many years.

Radford said there are vendors who accept WIC and senior vouchers given by the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center. To receive WIC and senior vouchers for the farmers market, contact the health and nutrition center.

The goal of the farmers’ market, according to the Surry County Extension Center’s website, is to “create and sustain a vibrant and innovative market that supports our local farmers and artisans, while extending the benefit of local food to the greater community.”

All sellers must reside in and produce items they sell within Surry County or adjacent counties of Stokes, Yadkin, Wilkes, and Alleghany in North Carolina and Patrick and Carroll County in Virginia. Vendors from other areas must request participation. All vendors must be the original producers of all items sold — no reselling produce or other products is allowed.

Before selling at markets, vendors must complete farm inspections conducted by an extension agent and receive GAP training to ensure good agricultural practices.

Products which can be sold include: vegetables; fruit; nuts; seeds with seed dealer license; plants grown by the seller; bulbs propagated by the seller; eggs produced by the seller’s poultry; honey and other products produced by the seller’s bees; preserves, pickles, jams, jellies, and relishes made by the seller; low acid canned foods if certified by the state; dried and cut flowers grown by the seller; firewood cut by the seller on the seller’s land; bagged, certified composts; straw baled by the seller; baked goods if seller has a NCDA certified kitchen; meat sold by licensed meat handlers; and dairy products with USDA approval. Homemade crafts may also be sold if approved by the board of directors.

Those who are interested in becoming a farmers’ market vendor should call the extension center at 336-401-8025.