Raleigh/Durham/Cary Farmer's Market. Which is the best?
I'd like to hit a farmer's market this weekend. These 3 look the closest. Has anyone been to these? I'd like to pick up some fruit and veggies for the week and maybe some meat if they have some heritage beef.
The State Farmers' Market in Raleigh is really a whole different animal. It is permanent and quite large, with almost every type of fruit, vegetable, meat and canned good. It also has garden supplies.
Went to the NC Farmers' Market on Lake Wheeler Rd for the first time last Thursday. Large selection of excellent quality vegetables, didn't notice much fruit other than peaches. The beef booth was stocked but not open when I was there.
If you're looking for more unusual produce, particularly pesticide/herbicide free then drive over to Carrboro. Vendors there may sell only items they produced themselves.
I don't know the provenance of the peaches. They were not in the building nearest the entrance, but in the next one. Although the peaches looked and smelled good when I walked by I didn't accept the sample that was offered because I was still bloated from breakfast at the restaurant there.
Both Durham and Carrboro are excellent, with Carrboro holding a slight lead since it's more establsihed (more vendors). I like both much more than the State Farmers' Market because all the products are from nearby farmers and if not organic everything is at least nautral (pestcide, herbicide, and hormones/antibiotics free).
Here's a good article comparing the Carrboro, Durham, and State Farmers Market.
Personally, I like the notion of Carrboro's market that the farmers themselves have to have grown everything that they sell there. Raleigh's has the largest variety of products, but keep in mind that some of those vendors buy wholesale from the original farmers and resell them.
I frequent Raleigh's the most because they are open on a daily basis, and sometimes I can't anticipate up to a week in advance what recipes will strike my fancy. Also, I can't bring myself to wake up so early on a Saturday morning to get out to Durham or Carrboro when the selection is best (i.e. from 8-10 a.m.).
On Monday, I got excellent snap peas from a Johnston County farmer ($1.49/pound), great blueberries (resold) also from Johnston County ($3.50/pint), squash and zucchini, okra ($3/pint), and vine-ripe tomatoes ($1.25/pound) from the State Farmers Market in Raleigh.
I was at both the Cary and State Farmer's Market this past saturday and the two experiences are very different. The Cary market had about 6 venders, only two of which were selling vegetables, it was pleasant but not a ton of variety. The State Market ( off of Lake Wheeler Rd) has a ton of venders but they tend to re-sell a lot, as mentioned below. It is my understanding that all of the produce in the first building has to be from North Carolina but not from the farm selling it. This is different then the other markets you mentioned all of which have milage and farm stipulations, ie the Carrboro and Cary markets both require the farm to be within 50 miles of the market. I believe the Durham market has a similar requirement. The Moore Square market, on Wednesday's, in Downtown Raleigh is more of a true farmer's market however I find their prices are quite steep. A bunch of carrots was selling for 4.00 there, and I picked up a similar bunch at the Cary market for 1.50. Both were not organic.
I agree the best market is Carrboro, both for quantity of farmer's and diversity of product, with Durham a close second. If you end up at the State Market I would recommend going early as it tends to be really really busy by noon and not as much fun to look around.