Catawba Valley Farmers Market joins markets across the country in celebrating National Farmers Market Week from August 2-8.
In the midst of a global pandemic, farmers markets — like all other small businesses — have been scrambling to continue operations for the farmers and communities that depend on them. Market managers have been at the forefront of adapting rapid solutions and innovation to protect staff, customers and community. When conventional food supply chains failed at the start of the pandemic, farmers markets and local food systems displayed the resiliency of short supply chains and interest in local foods spiked nationwide.
National Farmers Market Week is an annual celebration of farmers markets coordinated by the Farmers Market Coalition, a membership-based 503(c)3 nonprofit organization that supports farmers markets nationwide through training, technical assistance and network-building. This year, the campaign is centered around the essential role that farmers markets play in the food system as demonstrated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Catawba Valley Farmers Market (CVFM) began in 2010, and currently hosts an average of eight farmers, growers, bakers and artisans each week, offering a wide variety of products, including grass-fed beef, pork products, honey, eggs, fruits, vegetables, pickles, jams, fried pies, angel food cakes and many other baked goods, kettle corn, pottery, sewn items including face masks, and decorative concrete leaves and planters. This year, struggles faced due to the pandemic include additional costs to comply with COVID-19 guidelines, delayed opening date and reduced number of vendors (especially artisans).
The Market opened on June 11 with technical assistance from Adam Taylor, Market Supervisor, Virginia Tech (sponsor of CVFM), and the County of Roanoke, owner of the Community Center property, and with continuing support from loyal shoppers, many of whom have relied on CVFM for fresh, local foods since the Market opened in 2010.
Ann Harrell, Market Manager, stated, “The Catawba Valley Farmers Market could not continue to operate without the cooperation of our vendors, who must contend with adverse growing conditions, extreme heat on certain days and additional expenses and duties to comply with the COVID-19 guidelines.” She added, “It does lift our spirits when customers tell us how happy they are to have the Market open and to have all the local foods available again.”
“Farmers markets are essential to the life and livelihood of millions of shoppers and tens of thousands of farmers.” says Ben Feldman, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “But farmers markets don’t happen by accident. It takes the planning, organization and execution of dedicated individuals and community organizations. That work is harder than ever and farmers markets and the vendors who sell at them need all the help they can get.“
The Catawba Valley Farmers Market (CVFM) is a collaborative project of the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center, County of Roanoke, Catawba Ruritan Club and the Catawba Community. It is the mission of CVFM to foster community fellowship while providing the Catawba community and nearby areas with fresh, locally produced food and traditional handicrafts.
Many photos, a weekly update of products at the Market and other information may be found on the website – catawbafarmersmarket.com. Numerous updates are also listed on the Facebook page. The Market is located at the Catawba Community Center picnic shelter, 4965 Catawba Creek Road (Rt. 779), in Catawba. The Market is open on Thursdays from 3:00 to 6:30 pm. Severe weather conditions can force cancellation or early closure.
- Submitted by Ann G. Harrell, CVFM Manager