The King Farmers Market continues to grow at a new location in the Stokes County Family YMCA lower parking lot.
Gwendolyn Nergart, one of the market organizers, said the change in location was due to the growth of the market this year.
“We currently have 18 vendors plus the Master Gardener’s tent and a tent for a Market Match,” she said, adding that more vendors that sell mainly summer crops would be added later in the season.
The market, which is held every Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., kicked off its opening last week with a lot of special events including a seed swap sponsored by the Master Gardeners and performances by the Starcatchers.
Nergart said the special activities were just the first of many planned for this year.
“We will be doing special activities on the first Wednesday of each month through October,” she said. “Next month we are doing a Mother’s Day event with flowers for anyone who comes by and wants a flower for their mother. The Master Gardeners are growing them and will be giving them away.”
In June, the market will feature a community day with tents and displays featuring a variety of community organizations.
“In July, each of the vendors is going to make salsa with the ingredients from our farms and we will have city officials judge which one is best,” said Nergart. “Then in August we have two events. We will have a Kids Day on the first Wednesday and will have the FFA here doing kids activities and then we will have tomato tasting in the heart of the tomato season. Chief Paula May and City Manager Homer Dearmin will be come and judge our tomatoes.”
In September the market will host a bulb sale by the Master Gardeners and then will close the season with a pumpkin decorating contest in October.
Nergart said the market also rewards customers with a monthly drawing.
“If you buy something from any of the vendors here you get ticket from them which goes into a raffle bucket,” she explained. “We draw one ticket out every month and the winner gets a nice reusable market tote filled with all kinds of goodies from each vendor.”
She said the market offers a wide variety of products in addition to the regular vegetables a shopper would expect.
“We also have a cheese maker, a baker, beef and chicken and pork and a guy who is selling coffee,” she said. “Then Mystic Wolf offers soaps, tinctures and lip balms and we will have someone selling roses later in the year.”
Nergart added that customers have a variety of ways to pay for their purchases.
“Some vendors are still cash only, but most of us can take debit or credit cards using our smart phones,” she said.
The market also offers a program to help customers who have WIC, EBT or SNAP benefits.
“Market Match is an idea we had to help those customers have access to more produce,” said Deb Fox. “We are essentially doubling what they have to spend.”
Under the program customers either swipe their EBT card or make purchases with their WIC vouchers to get up to $10 in matching funds that can be used at the market.
“They can end up with $20 in tokens they can use to buy food each week,” said Fox. “Hopefully it will make a difference. We are just trying to find ways to make sure they can still come and get real food.”
She said the program was made possible through a grant from Carolina Farm Credit and Wholesome Wave.
“You can get a lot of food at the market with that much money,” she said. “And it is all healthy and local food.”
Fox added that for a limited time EBT and WIC customers can get a free cookbook, Eat Well on $4/Day Good and Cheap, which has healthy but inexpensive recipes for fresh produce.
“It has some really amazing recipes and is very simple and straightforward,” she said.
For more information on the market or the Market Match program visit www.kingfarmersmarket.org.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.