Nov. 16, 2011 10:37

Cobblestone Farmers Market a showcase for locally raised, sustainable food

Cobblestone customers2
Patrons of the Cobblestone Farmers Market in downtown Winston-Salem peruse and sample the wares of local farmers that use sustainable practices in growing their produce.

The Cobblestone Farmers Market operates on the principles of self-reliance and sustainability. This was evident on a recent Tuesday morning as the market was in full swing on the cobblestone street adjacent to the historical Nissen Building near the intersection of Patterson Avenue and 3rd Street in downtown Winston-Salem. On that chilly November day, Margaret Norfleet-Neff and her daughter, Salem — founders of Beta Verde — showcased their artisan jams and preserves.

“This year, we have tripled our value-added products,” Margaret said. “We have seven or eight new products, including apple-ginger chili preserves. We also have a muscadine preserves, which is great at this time of the year.”

Margaret suggested adventurous patrons substitute muscadine preserves or pickled blueberries for cranberry sauce on their Thanksgiving table. Buying from the farmers market is a great way to support local sustainable farmers and growers, said Margaret. All vendors at the Cobblestone Farmers Market must implement sustainable practices to grow and raise vegetables, beef and poultry in a clean way.

“Our company has been going for about three years, but in the last year, we’ve jumped with both feet into the value-added products that came out of the dinners we were doing by introducing people to vegetables they can find at the farmers market,” she said.

Harvey and Susan Moser of Moser Farms had their booth filled with produce grown on their farm in Stokes County. Harvey said Moser farms raises a variety of vegetables throughout the year including, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, squash, arugula, Chinese cabbage, bok choy and lima beans.

“Basically, whatever is in season,” Harvey said. “We use organic fertilizer and all-natural stuff to grow our vegetables.”

This time of year, visitors to the Moser Farms booth at Cobblestone can find fresh tur- till 2am nightly! nip greens, mustard greens, kale, spring onions and radishes, essentially whatever Susan and Harvey can get out of their garden. One of the advantages of Cobblestone is the unparalleled freshness of the produce.

Harvey and Susan Moser of Moser Farms had their booth filled with produce grown on their farm in Stokes County during the Cobblestone Farmers Market on Nov. 8.

“The majority of the stuff presented [at Cobblestone] has been picked within 24 hours, so it’s like coming directly to the garden,” Harvey said. “When you select the produce in our booth, it’s just like picking it out of the garden.”

Most farmers markets have already ceased operations for the year, but the Cobblestone Farmers Market will remain open through Nov. 29. The market is held every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Formerly known as the Krankies Farmers Market, Cobblestone is now operated by Cultivate Piedmont, a program of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. The nonprofit runs farmers markets throughout the Carolinas in an effort to encourage farmers and ranchers to grow and raise sustainable produce. Cultivate Piedmont’s mission also includes education and outreach efforts to encourage the general public to buy sustainable food, said Adrienne Outcalt, program manager for Cultivate Piedmont. Cobblestone is one of several farmers markets in the area, but the only one with a mission. The nonprofit’s education and outreach efforts extend to the local school system, regularly organizing field trips of elementary school classes to the farmers market. Cultivate Piedmont also holds adult cooking classes on how to prepare dishes with a seasonal twist. The next cooking class is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 8 at the Forsyth County Agricultural Building — located at 1450 Fairchild Road — from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Registration fee is $20 per class. Kevin Fisher, chef at the Screaming Rooster will teach the class and focus on preparation of traditional holiday dishes with local, sustainable meat and produce. Margaret and Salem started Beta Verde three years ago, farming half an acre of land behind her Winston-Salem home. She has been part of the farmers market since its inception in 2008. Margaret and Salem can attest to the tremendous growth in local support for sustainable agriculture. One of the advantages for customers of the Cobblestone market is the assurance that every vendor produces their own meat and vegetables without pesticides

“We’ve seen an increase of people using farmers market as one of their primary food sources,” Margaret said. “We hope to see a growth in dedication of customers to our growers and having the farmers market be the first place people go and the grocery store becoming a supplement.”

Harvey Moser echoed Margaret’s sentiments.

“It’s the best market we go to,” Harvey said.

“We sell up here at King twice at week at King Farmers Market and the Cobblestone Market down there just blows it out of the water.”

Harvey said he and Susan raise vegetables you can’t buy at a normal grocery store. Harvey is impressed by the number of the customers who will buy anything and try it for the first time. He attributed some of the interest in more obscure vegetables like red mustard and bok choy to the increasing popularity of cooking shows on TV.

Perhaps the greatest significance of the success of the Cobblestone is its contribution to developing a more sustainable, green economy in Winston-Salem, which has an impact far beyond the dinner table.

“We hope to see Cobblestone grow and see that particular viewpoint of a more sustainable economy with the expansion of the market in the future,” said Margaret.

Wanna go? The Cobblestone Farmers Market is held near the intersection of Patterson Avenue and 3rd Street in downtown Winston-Salem every Tuesday from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. through Nov. 29. Interested in a sustainable food cooking class? Contact Adrienne Outcalt at 336.782.1345 or email: Adrienne@ carolinafarmstewards.org.

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