Farmers Market to begin in Drakes

Published 12:40 pm Friday, May 6, 2016

Plans are underway for a new Farmers Market slated to begin in Drakes Branch on Friday, May 13.

The Charlotte County Farmers Market at Drakes Branch is a collaboration between the Charlotte County Extension Office and the Town of Drakes Branch.

“The town is excited about partnering with the extension agency and Mr. (Cornell) Goldman to offer fresh produce in the Drakes Branch area and Charlotte County,” said Drakes Branch Town Councilman Roscoe Eubanks.

At Monday’s meeting of the Drakes Branch Town Council, Charlotte County’s Agriculture Extension Agent Bob Jones said a Farmers Market is good for the population within the county.

“We want to do something on a Friday afternoon. If you count the boats and trailers that go through here from about 10 a.m. on a Friday morning all the way through later on in the afternoon, that’s a lot of money we could be keeping here in the county,” Jones said.

The proposed location of the Farmers Market is the Drakes Branch Pavilion, and currently there are three dedicated vendors. Vendors include herbal balms by Beth Reynolds, produce by Cornell Goldman and local beef by Jim Brooks.

According to Jones, Cullen’s wholesale produce auction started about five years ago and has a regular clientele. “Cullen sees about 100-150 visitors two times a week,” he said.

Jones said he believes it is time to take the initiative a step further. He said the Drakes Branch Farmers Market will be scaled down to start with, however, a variety of fresh produce and beef will be available for purchase.

Jones said the Town of Drakes Branch has been instrumental in providing support for the initiative.

“The Farmers Market ties into our plan for revitalizing the town, and we encourage all citizens to take part in this upcoming event to help the town out. As the town grows, so does the county,” said Drakes Branch Council Member Noah Davis.

Cullen producer and Drakes Branch Farmers Market Manager Cornell Goldman said the wholesale auction is geared toward larger quantity purchases, while the Drakes Branch Farmers Market would allow the sale of smaller quantities.

Items sold will include broccoli, kale, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, carrots and sweet corn.

Goldman said the Farmers Market would also offer 12-pound pre-packed boxes, including a variety of seasonal vegetables each week for $15.

Jones said the idea behind the Farmers Market is to capture traffic coming through Drakes Branch to provide meats and fresh produce. “Hopefully that will grow to where a lot of our locals will start coming there on a Friday afternoon,” he said.

Brooks, owner of Locust Hall Farm, said he has customers from Mecklenburg, Halifax and as far as Florida supporting his beef.

Brooks said local beef is not comparable to supermarket beef, because with a local product it is evident where the beef comes from. “I try to keep my prices relative to what the area’s are,” he said.

The Drakes Branch Farmers Market will kick off on May 13 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Local beef will be available from 2-6 p.m.

Interested vendors should contact Cornell Goldman at (434) 534-2504 and general inquiries should be directed to the Charlotte County Extension Office at (434) 542-5884.