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A Saturday Stroll Through the Rocky Mount Farmer’s Market

Gayatri Chopra (2022)

I love a good farmer’s market experience. It’s enticing, pacing slowly from stall to stall, inspecting every fresh vegetable on display, sniffing the all-natural soaps and lotions and candles, and picking out the tastiest-sounding pastry you can find. I had high expectations for the Rocky Mount Farmer’s Market, and when Caroline and I pulled into the parking lot overlooking every vendor, I knew my expectations would be met. 

From the first step in, Caroline and I were overwhelmed by how many things there were to buy. Within seconds, we were scanning the first table, a spice and vegetable stall. The vendor started listing off which products of hers were customer favorites, but I got distracted by the bookshelf display she had full of different kinds of pickles. Before going in, though, I decided to look at everything available in the farmer’s market before buying things. We took a few more steps into the crowd, taking our time to look at the recently-harvested produce laying across tables, reading signs that listed cuts of meat available, and stopping to sniff each of the dozen candles lined up from one vendor.

As we wove through the lines of vendors and tables, we realized that the market wasn’t just a farmer’s market, but an artisan craft fair too. There were booths selling handmade jewelry, customized towels and tote bags, and one-of-a-kind art pieces. Caroline and I savored each moment of our exploration, and the sellers were happy, too. Vendors told us about why they started making and selling their products, and it was amazing to hear about how passionate they were. 

Several of the vendors were also thrilled to hear about our journey on Highway 64. A vendor from one booth in particular, the Koi Pond Brewing Company, said that a lot of the foot traffic the farmer’s market gets each weekend is from visitors traveling along Highway 64. Businesses like Koi Pond Brewing can use the farmer’s market as a way to share their products because so many people who buy aren’t local. 

After spending some time talking to the man at the Koi Pond stall about the brewery’s beers, I decided to purchase a few since I was twenty-one. I made a mixed four-pack, choosing two of the brewery’s most popular beers, one with an eclectic mix of fruit flavors and one because the art on the can was beautiful. Each one was fresh and crisp, and I considered making the two-hour drive another Saturday just to get another four brews because it would be worth it.

Caroline and I wandered around more, stopping to talk to a few more vendors and buying things that caught our eyes. We walked back to the car, hands full of our purchases and smiles on our faces. It was a great farmer’s market, and we were glad to be taking pieces of it home with us.

The Rocky Mount Farmer’s Market captures a snapshot of some of the best of the city’s local businesses and artists. If you’re passing through Rocky Mount or want to explore some of North Carolina’s best markets, make sure to stop by on Saturday mornings!

Rocky Mount Farmer's Market

Ciara Corcoran (2015)

On a crisp October morning, we pulled into the Rocky Mount Farmer’s Market. The goal: fresh apples. Status: hungry. The Market was situated in a permanent shelter on Peachtree Street, about 5 minutes from Rocky Mount’s historic downtown. I was hoping for nothing more than a fresh North Carolina apple. Much to my dismay, we were not in the apple region. We were in the seafood region. Outside the shelter was a man selling fresh shrimp and crawfish out of the back of his truck. Inside the farmer’s market was a variety of vendors. Sweet potatoes, fresh flowers, baked goods, grits, handwoven baskets, personalized aprons. There was even an antique car. I quickly scoured the vendors, accepting the fact that I was misguided in my apple desire.

The vendor that caught my eye was S & S Boiled Peanuts. I’d never had a boiled peanut, but that was all about to change. I struck up a conversation with the man and his wife who were selling the peanuts and revealed the fact that I’d never had a boiled peanut. Well, this just didn’t stand with him. He got up and offered a boiled peanut to me and my two friends who were along for the journey. He cracked the soggy peanuts in half for us. Inside the damp peanut shell were two engorged peanuts that looked nothing like the peanuts I knew and loved. The disdain was apparent on my face because the man reminded me that “they’re legumes, not nuts.” This may be true but I still wasn’t on board. I popped the beans in my mouth and was overwhelmed by the heat and the saltiness. I slowly chewed but had I not been in the presence of the man who prepared the peanuts, I would have spit them out. I couldn’t get past the mushy consistency and saltiness.

I thanked the man for the peanuts, and he commented on the camera I was carrying, asking what I was taking pictures of. I explained the project and he summarized it by responding in his North Carolina drawl, “So you want to know what Southerners do on the weekends? We get drunk.” He gave me some context to this by explaining that today was Koichella, a beer, music, and food truck festival happening at Koi Pond Bar about five minutes from the farmer’s market. He even said that he and his wife would be there later selling more of their boiled peanuts! We thanked him for the invitation but had to decline, not because of the boiled peanuts, but because we had to continue our journey down the highway.

We drifted through the farmer’s market some more. Completely abandoning any desire for an apple, I found Magie’s baked goods and pursued my options. I was overwhelmed by a selection of sweet breads, pies, and pastries, each looking more delicious than the next. I ended up purchasing a sweet potato turnover. Magie recommended toasting the turnover in a George Foreman grill. We didn’t happen to bring a grill on our journey, but I can tell you that it was just as sweet, soft, and flaky eating it straight from the bag as we continued our journey down Highway 64.

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