Reclaim Simplicity

The Midtown Raleigh Farmers Market is a producers-only event where you’ll enjoy meeting the people as much as sampling their food and wares.

By Beth Peterson
Photos by Lori Lay

There’s something about a farmers market that works like a tonic on our souls. From the moment we arrive, blood pressure seems to drop and each breath feels deeper. Why? Is it the mingling scents of earth and produce, calling to mind a simpler time, when entire days were spent outdoors? Is it the feel of a sun-warm tomato, heavy in our hands? Chances are, it’s the many reminders of our connection to the earth and to each other.

At the Midtown Raleigh Farmers Market, conveniently located in the Commons at North Hills, you’ll find all the charm and simplicity of a produce-centric farmers market right in the middle of one of Raleigh’s most popular shopping centers. Every Saturday from mid-April until early November, from 8am until noon, you can find a soul-nourishing combination of fresh air and live music serving as backdrop to the panoply of 40-plus tents. Along with traditional farmers market vendors and their rainbow displays of produce, you’ll marvel at the diversity of products curated for this weekly exhibition.

There is so much worth noticing here, but the air of welcome is what is hardest to miss. With smiles on their faces and pride in their eyes, the vendors invite visitors to slow down—to taste, smell, touch, or admire something truly unique, something that is defined by the person selling it.

The Midtown Raleigh Farmers Market is different than most farmers markets because it is a producers-only market, which means that everything you see was made or grown by the people whose smiles greet you when you pass their way.

Slow down to speak to any of the 45 or so vendors, and you’ll feel like you’ve made a new friend. You’ll find out that Nancy, of Weathers Cheddars, sells homemade cheese straws, using the same recipe her mother used—which is probably the same recipe her mother’s mother used.

Lauren, of Wicked and Woven, sells scented soy candles and wearables. Some scents are woodsy while others are beachy or floral, but every scent has a name and a story to go with it.

Bobbie sells compost bins because she believes in reducing landfill waste. For similarly eco-minded people without the yardspace to compost, the organization compostnow.org offers easy answers.

Julie, who stands tucked a bit behind racks of gorgeous, handmade children’s dresses at the Crown Jules Clothing tent, will joyfully share the reason she started sewing at age 9, and why, if you buy one dress, she sends another to orphans in need.

Stop by the Michael’s English Muffins tent, and Izzy or Annabelle might tempt you to try a sample of the delightful baked paradox that is somehow both fluffy and chewy.

On and on the list goes: There’s Scott selling honey he harvests from hives scattered around Raleigh. Tharaa is selling mamool because her husband couldn’t stop making the delicate cookies after he discovered them on a trip to Egypt. And Patrick is selling beard oil he makes right in his own kitchen. There are makers of bath salts and painters of pet portraits. You can stock up on all manner of baby items, or find herbs, berries, and salsas to sample.

Even if the Midtown Raleigh Farmers Market wasn’t as conveniently located and easy to access as it is, this is one farmers market that is worth a special trip. But don’t just come for the food, or for the last-minute baby gifts. Come and be reminded that we are meant to live in community; that knowing the name of the lady who makes the cheese straws isn’t just good manners—it’s good for your soul. Oh, and in case you’ve forgotten, her name is Nancy.

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