The Carrboro Farmers Market (CFM) has long been a place where consumers can purchase fresh produce, pastured meat, and homemade prepared foods from local farmers and artisans. Now considered one of the top markets in the South and a model for markets nationwide, the CFM represents a deep and rich historical tradition that continues to serve as a beacon of innovation and inspiration.
Founded in 1979 in partnership with the University of North Carolina’s school of public health, the CFM is one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the state. It is nestled next to the Carrboro Town Hall, barely a mile from the bustling center of the UNC campus. Having grown out of its original location in the 1990s, today the market spans a converted baseball field, where as many as 65 vendors set up shop on Saturdays year-round, as well as every Wednesday during peak season.
Not only are all CFM goods made or grown within a fifty-mile radius, but the market also takes pride in its stipulation that the farmers and artisans themselves vend the goods that they produce. This gives customers the opportunity to establish important relationships with the producers of the foods they consume. The relationships that form between farmer and customer at the CFM often develop into strong friendships, as is the case with longtime market-goers William Friday and Carla Shuford, whose interviews are featured as part of this project.
So what does a typical day at the CFM look like? On Saturdays you can stop by the Eco Farm stand to chat with John Soehner and Cindy Econopouly Soehner and learn about the shiitake mushrooms they cultivate on their farm in Chapel Hill. Then you stroll over to the Peregrine Farm stand and admire Betsy Hitt’s flowers or enter into a conversation with Alex Hitt as he roasts peppers on an open flame. You can grab a slice of Louise Parrish’s famous pound cake to go, or stop by the Pig restaurant’s cart to get an Animal Welfare Approved pork hotdog on a Chicken Bridge Bakery bun. If you keep an eye open, you will likely see many of Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro’s chefs such as Karen and Ben Barker of Magnolia Grill, Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner, or Matt and Sheila Neal of Neal’s Deli sourcing local ingredients to feature on their menus. And you are more than likely to receive a warm and welcoming smile from the current market manager, Sarah Blacklin, who has fostered the market’s involvement in community outreach and food education.
You can read and listen to oral history interviews with market vendors and customers by browsing the selections below.
Welcome to the Carrboro Farmers’ Market.
Funding from Anson Mills, the South Carolina grower and miller of grains, drives SFA's agricultural oral histories.