DOBSON — The seed of a farmers market planted in Dobson is growing slowly but surely, according to a core group of vendors who have chosen to take advantage of the county’s youngest market.
Run through the Surry Center of the N.C. Cooperative Extension, the weekly farmers market is open Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
On Thursday, four vendors had set up under the Simpson Insurance picnic shelter at Dobson Square Park, which is located towards the south side of the park adjacent to West Folger Street.
Though the market is slightly out of sight of passersby on the more busy downtown thoroughfares, plenty of folks dropped into pick up fresh produce and hand-crafted items.
“I’ve been coming since day one,” said Sandy McCormick, of Rockford, standing near her McCormick Farm table filled with fresh-picked produce as well as jams and jellies, salsa and dried produce.
That first market day of the 2016 season was a bit nerve-wracking.
McCormick said she only pulled in $6.
“But I just kept coming,” she said. “I thought, ‘People will come.’”
“I’ve built up a great clientele,” said McCormick. “I’ve actually got people calling me the day before putting in orders.”
McCormick is a 10-year veteran of the farmers market scene who used to sell in Winston-Salem before the Surry County markets became reinvigorated in 2012.
“This is my favorite market,” she said of Dobson.
The market’s unique afternoon hours, set this year to be more accessible for the town’s working population, suit the Rockford-based farmer, who said with the morning free for picking, the produce for sale that afternoon is as fresh as possible.
“I wish we had a few more vendors so people have more choices,” but in the meantime, she said, “we do what we can do.”
Joanna Radford, Surry Center cooperative extension agent who oversees the markets confirmed that the Dobson market is doing well.
“We have had a few more vendors to sign up this fall,” she said.
Lisa Slawter, of Elkin, has also been a regular vendor at the Dobson and Elkin markets throughout the 2016 season.
“Customers do come,” she said. “I sell good at both markets.”
Her business, Apples N’ Spice Crafts and Bakery, features hand-baked items and crafts.
She gestured to an empty space on her table Thursday and mentioned it had earlier been filled with a variety of quick breads of which she had since sold out.
“As it goes on more different people know about this,” she said. “It’s not the same people every week.”
This season has been Jeff McDonald’s first year doing any of the markets.
“The biggest thing is getting the word out,” said McDonald, whose handcrafted soap and fragrance business is named Renew.
He noted that business had dropped off some since school started and said returning every week was becoming more difficult to justify.
“I’m battling not coming up here anymore because I really enjoy the camaraderie we have,” he said, referring to himself, Slawter and McCormick as the mainstays.
Radford confirmed that all three Surry County farmers markets will remain open through November.
Previously scheduled to shut down for the season in late October, the Elkin market will be open through Saturday, Nov. 26, the Dobson market will be open through Nov. 17 and the Mount Airy market will be open through Nov. 22.
Phyllis Adams, of Mount Airy, seemed pleased to hear from one vendor that she’d have an extra few weeks to shop.
It was her first visit to the market; she left with her arms full of sweet potatoes, apples and greens.
When asked if she planned on returning to the market she replied enthusiastically: “Yes, I will.”