From the first known markets on the banks of the Nile in the Bronze Age to Boston’s famous farmers market that began in 1634, the practice of farmers gathering in public spaces to sell their produce is nothing new. But did you know that Carrboro is home to one of the first modern farmers markets?
As towns became more established in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds, grocery and general stores grew in popularity, being the more convenient and – and often cheaper – option when compared to purchasing straight from a local farm. Organized farmers markets seemed largely a thing of the past until the Gardina Farmers market opened in Southern California in 1979 and spurred a new generation of farm-to-table offerings. Unfortunately for Southern California, Carrboro had them beat to the farmers market punch by two years.
Begun in 1977 by farmers working in cooperation with students at the UNC School of Public Health, the Carrboro Farmers Market was one of the earliest modern markets to link farmers directly with consumers in a space formally designed for doing so. All products of the market must be produced within 50 miles of Carrboro by vendors who live within the same 50 mile radius. Growing from less than 20 vendors to well over 50, the Carrboro farmers market isn’t just a place to buy local produce, it’s a piece of history.