On Monday, Aug. 25, Ronnie Edens set out his colorful baskets of fruits and vegetables. Customers soon gathered around his cart, filling bags with softball-size peaches and tomatoes.
“We’re kind of known for our tomatoes,” Edens said. “We have 160 acres and we bring the very best down here.”
Many customers came out to Wrightsville Beach Park for one of the final days of the Wrightsville Beach Farmers’ Market, despite the grey, damp weather. Edens and the other vendors were thankful the rain at least held off.
“It’s been a wet season,” he said. “You think about the average Mondays that it rained down here. This is about the first one in the last four that it hasn’t rained.”
Many of the vendors agreed the rainy weather hurt business slightly over the course of the 2014 farmers’ market season. Vickie Davis from Davis Seafood said the first few weeks of the season in particular were very slow.
“The only thing I can think is our children went to school a few extra days of the school year, because of the cold winter,” she said, “so maybe the students up north possibly were delayed in coming down [so we had less]tourists and visitors, for example.”
George Hanchey from Hanchey’s Produce in Wallace, NC was disappointed in the slower season, saying he wished more people were aware of the difference between produce bought at a grocery store and produce sold at a farmers’ market.
“It’s fresh,” he said. “The taste will tell you the difference. Picked one day, sold the next.”
Edens said there are quite a few people who have noticed the difference, and these loyal customers visit the farmers’ market every week to buy their produce, desserts, jewelry, sea salt, and other goods. Several people paid for their produce and immediately bit into the juicy peaches, grapes or tomatoes, which were still warm from the sun.
Davis said although the farmers’ market does get business from the tourists, the vendors really depend on the local customers who visit every Monday, rain or shine, during the summer months.
“I have a lot of the same repeat customers every single week,” she said, “and I would like to give them all a big hug…we couldn’t do it without them for sure. We couldn’t survive without the support of the locals.”