The concept of the Farmer’s Market has grown considerably in Macon County. John Boetjens was one of the original members of the downtown Farmer’s Market when it first started in Franklin in 2000. He said that there were three other people besides himself at that time, and now the market averages 20 vendors each week. The market gives the people a chance to get together, says Boetjens, and any sense of competition does not matter. He pointed out that, even if there are several people with the same things, they could not produce enough to supply every person in Macon County, therefore, there would always be a demand for whatever the vendors have. He has been selling all of the vegetables he brings almost every week.
Donald Carringer, a physician at Western Carolina University, who also sells produce on the weekends, agrees with Boetjens. Both men said that the market is growing significantly. There are more vendors, more variety of wares, and more visitors each year.
Carringer said that this is the fourth season that he and his wife have been coming to the Farmer’s Market. Each week they have homegrown vegetables, homemade jams and jellies, baked goods, and various flower arrangements. “I have always been into gardening,” Carringer explained, “and when we first moved to Franklin six years ago, we visited the Farmer’s Market one time and I thought that this would be a good hobby to get into … I like places like Walmart and Ingles, but this market has more of a community feel to it than a big corporation.”
The Wednesday Farmers Market is located on the Highlands Road below the flea market. A typical market will include plenty of fresh produce, baked goods, botanicals, cheeses and even homemade wine. Known as Country Home Co-op, some products can only be purchased if shoppers are members. Denny and Dianne Covher began the co-op as a way to promote a sustainable community. Vendors sell from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays until the end of October.
The Farmer’s Market is the perfect place to begin and grow a small business. NC REAL is partnering with the Macon County Economic Development Commission, the Franklin Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Franklin, and Southwestern Community College to provide classes and training for small businesses, with some instruction especially for agriculture.
Trevor Dalton, coordinator for Macon County’s Economic Development Commission (EDC), says that with these farmer’s markets in Franklin, agriculture is a strong business. “We want to support these people that are growing food and making products at home and selling them at these markets,” Dalton said. With the NC REAL classes being held at the Southwestern Macon campus, people that wish to start a business and know all about agriculture but not about business can learn about finances and other aspects of running a business.
The Farmer’s Market will be open every Saturday until Thanksgiving.
Anyone interested in the entrepreneur classes can contact Linda Schlott at (828) 524-2516.