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Defining “local” at the Atherton Market

The following is the weekly newsletter from Lynn Caldwell, market manager for the Atherton Market. The farmers market is open year round, 5 days a week. Tue 9am -7pm and Wed-Sat 9am to 2pm.

What’s Happening at the Market? 

I’ve had a couple of questions lately about how some of our products qualify as “local,” and if the questions are being asked then I would imagine it has crossed your mind too. As a market we are very much about education and transparency, as well as providing a good customer experience. The non-farm vendors and their products at the market are carefully selected to compliment the core offerings at the market, which are the farm goods – produce, meat, eggs and dairy. You will never see lemons or bananas or avocados at the Atherton Market unless someone figures out how to grow them here, though they might be used as ingredients by a vendor to make something that is locally produced.  Let me share a couple of other examples.

Chris at Vin Master does carry a couple of NC wines, but he does not feel that wine production in NC is environmentally considerate because of the climate, and while acquiring local wine means a lower carbon footprint, overall the effect on the environment is more detrimental than imported wines from biodynamic wineries around the world. If a customer is a wine lover, then they are going to buy wine somewhere, and I would rather them buy from someone with insight into wine production and environmental issues, as well as things like additives and preservatives, than to buy from someone else.  We as a market also prize sustainability.

The same goes for Ohhlio Express.  Olives don’t grow here, though there are farmers in Georgia who will have them in a few years.  Tom has put a ton of research into the producers of the olive oils and vinegars that he buys from around the world.  He just returned from Italy where he spent time on a small family farm.  Tom does many of his own infusions, sometimes with herbs grown in his own garden. The quality at Ohhlio Express is very high, and I would rather have customers educated and buying from him than from the grocery store or one of the other specialty shops that are far less knowledgeable.

There are other vendors at the market who source things that can’t be grown here and then use their skills to make them special and locally value-added, such as coffee, soy-based soaps and candles, nuts and teas. LynnErin at Simply Local and I often discuss standards, because at Simply Local some things are made with local ingredients and some are just unique, though they are all produced in NC. Often she has to listen to her conscience and her customers, as do I.

Things do get by me sometimes, and I appreciate the opportunity to revisit what we offer and how it relates to our messaging. I’m always open to dialogue on this topic and anything else market or food related.

I have a few new things here to tell you about!  Whispering Willow just introduced a line of soy candles with fragrances like cedarwood and lavender.  With a natural wooden wick, you get a little pop and crackle, like a fireplace.  Cozy and romantic!

Pickleville has a couple of new products this week.  The first is a gherkin-like bread and butter pickle that has a sweet finish and a crunchy texture.  The second is pickled garlic!  Sure to ward off the spooks and goblins as we get near to Halloween, it is sweet and savory.

Speaking of Halloween, the Green Halloween Costume Swap is this Saturday from 10 am until noon!  If you drop a costume off between now and then, you’ll get a ticket for first dibs on a new-to-you (or your child) costume this weekend.  What a great way to recycle.  Then on the 20th we’ll have a costume parade and a pumpkin decorating contest to get you in the mood for Halloween and upcoming activities, which include our own version of Fright Night on Tuesday the 30th.

It is the season for planting and the season for festivals.  Come and get fall seedlings from Microfarm Organic Gardens, and visit our chicken coop roadshow as Matt joins me at the Dilworth Jubillee and again at the Dilworth Elementary Dragonfest this weekend.  The market is also making an entry in the Dilworth/South End Chili Cookoff, so you’ll find me there with Craig Barbour from Roots.Good.Food making his “Chili 101” with all-local ingredients.  Come and vote for us to be the winner.  There will be lots of good chili to taste, which goes great with this cooler weather.

We’re looking forward to hosting the Trinity Episcopal first graders for a field trip tomorrow and the Natural Wonders Playgoup next Tuesday morning for an adventure.  Get on our calendar so we can host your group too!

Keeping it fresh and local,
Lynn S. Caldwell
Atherton Market Manager




  1. Pingback: A Great Weekend to Spend in South End « historic south end - October 12, 2012

  2. Pingback: atherton mill market & the best cinnamon waffle! « suttonrowe - October 14, 2012

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