CHAPEL HILL – This Saturday morning, farmers woke up early to prepare for the Carrboro Farmers’ Market’s annual Tomato Day. Shoppers lined up to try over 70 different varieties of tomatoes, ranging from Early Girls to German Johnsons.
The process to grow tomatoes takes months. Elise Bortz of Elysian Fields Farm says she started planting tomatoes in her greenhouse early in the year. Yesterday, she prepared to bring her tomatoes to market.
“We start them in the greenhouse the third week of February,” said Bortz. “We started harvesting this year the beginning of July.”
Jackson Holt from Sunset Farms in Snow Camp walked through the steps of growing tomatoes.
“You have to seed the plants in trays,” said Holt. “You have to water them of course. Once they’re the right size, you have to prepare the field, transplant them. Then, you stake them or trellis them or tie them. Then, you harvest them and sort them and grade them and take them to market and sell them. There’s a lot that goes into it.”
Many farmers’ family histories are embedded in the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. Eighty-five year old farmer Hazeline Zachary from Zach’s Fresh Produce in Snow Camp says her family has sold fruits and vegetables at the Farmers’ Market for about 27 years.
Before the Carrboro Farmers’ Market moved to its current location, a photograph of Hazeline and her husband Dalton was taken while working at the Farmers’ Market.
“My husband and I, my picture, is in the Smithsonian,” said Zachary. “It hung for four months, a huge picture of us kissing.”
In 1994, their picture hung in the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History.
The Zachary’s farm has existed well over 27 years, though.
“We live at the Zachary Home Place,” said Zachary. “It’s been over a hundred years with that family.”
Leah Cook from Wild Hare Farm has sold her produce at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market since 1998. Saturday, she sold six different varieties of tomatoes – Cherokee Purple, Virginia Sweet, Pink Girl, Big Beef, Sun Gold, and Roma.
Many farmers lost track of how many tomatoes they sold.
Tomato Day brought many local residents to the Farmers’ Market and even drew one family to move down to Chapel Hill.
Michelle Fried and her family moved to North Carolina just three weeks ago. One of their major draws – Tomato Day.
“We came on vacation a year ago, and we thought this was really great, the Tomato Festival and we love tomatoes,” said Fried. “We actually moved out here and this was one of the first things that we wanted to do was come to the Tomato Festival.”
Tomato Day brought a large crowd out to the Carrboro Farmers’ Market and helped support farmers in the area. Alena Stein from Cane Creek Farm in Snow Camp encourages shopping at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market.
“Support your local farmers and come to the Farmers’ Market,” said Stein.
The Carrboro Farmers’ Market is open this summer every Saturday morning from 7 AM to noon and Wednesday afternoons from 3:30 to 6:30 PM. It is located at 301 West Main Street in Carrboro.
You can find more information about the Carrboro Farmers’ Market here.