The changing foliage seems eager to announce that autumn is once again in full swing in the Triangle. Of course, colorful leaves aren’t the only treasure this North Carolina season has to offer. Fall is a time of fruiting after work and sharing the joy of the harvest with family, friends and other kindred spirits. On that note, what could be better than visiting a farmers market with autumn products as a way to immerse yourself in the beauty of this season?
The first Black Farmers Market was held in 2018, following an initiative called Black August in the park. “To inspire a self-sufficient community that supports and protects Black farmers and entrepreneurs,” reads the mission statement on BFM’s official website. The team behind BFM see their primary goals as tackling food apartheid, fight misconceptions about healthy lifestyles and support local black farmers. BFM works with farmers through a membership system to create a “community-centric space” where everyone can access healthy, affordable food.
Because of 100th anniversary parade back to Hillside High School, the usual location of Durham BFM, the newest BFM was temporarily transferred to Central University of North Carolina. Nevertheless, the market was still bustling for the last half hour before closing. A tent with a DJ was set up on the side for the music. Pleasant aromas of baked goods and handmade soaps wafted through the cool afternoon air.
One of the first vendors that appeared was Diamond’s Soap ROU support. “Rou” is Afrikaans for “raw”, an apt name for its soaps which are made with natural materials such as lemongrass, shea butter and lavender. In addition to classic scents, ROU Soap offers seasonal selections such as “Autumn Breeze”, “Funky Fall”, and “Ghost Town”.
A few tents apart stood the tent for Pine knot trusses, a certified organic farm based in Hurdle Mills, North Carolina. On the side of the table, two trays of small samplers. One was warm nut bread smeared with Pine Knot’s homemade apple butter and the other was “chow chow dip” – a dip made by Linda, co-owner of Pine Knot, with “chow chow” sauce. mild vegetable chow – topped on crispy pita. Made with freshly grown apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and other ingredients, this apple butter jar captures the best taste of fall.
Around closing I asked if I could have another piece of nut bread with apple butter. “Take it all,” Pine Knot team member Ann said.
Follow the smell of pastries, and visitors will find Zalery’s cake studio. They seemed to be popular with customers as there were hardly any choices left by the last half hour. Zalery’s offers a wide variety of cupcakes, desserts and monthly cake specials.
In one of the aisles of the middle tent stood Jireh Family Farm, a vendor who primarily focuses on meat. Among other products, they currently offer Angus beef, pasture-raised chicken, and pasture-raised Thanksgiving turkey. Their meat is available for online ordering and pickup at the physical farm location. This farm run by the Jarvis family already has four generations of farmers. One of its new generation farmers is Camille, who shares the main motivation behind their focus on meat.
“We wanted [start from ourselves] to make sure we had clean meat and provide everyone else with clean meat,” Camille said.
Around this time, the background music changed from hip-hop beats to a soulful chorus, then faded, signaling the end of this market session. From the musical tent came a farewell greeting: “We thank you all for coming. God bless you and good night.
North Carolina Black Farmers Markets are held every second Sunday of the month in Durham and every fourth Sunday in Raleigh. Durham Market is at Hillside High School and Raleigh Market is at Southeast Raleigh YMCA. The next Black Farmers Market in Durham will be on November 13. You can help support the Black Farmers Market here.
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