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Rolesville Farmers Market looking to grow — but needs farmers

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ROLESVILLE — Head to downtown Rolesville on any given Saturday this summer, and you’ll find rows of stands selling fresh eggs, tomatoes and fruit-filled pies.

The Rolesville Farmers Market hosts vendors selling locally made jewelry, soap and cake. What you won’t find at the farmers market, however, are many farmers.

Organizer Sherri Bauer said she has been buying wholesale fruits and vegetables from the Raleigh Farmers Market to supplement the produce she and one other grower have been bringing to the market. She also resells produce from farmers in Louisburg and Zebulon so that fresh and locally grown food is plentiful at the market.

The next step, Bauer said, is to convince farmers to come out and sell their products themselves. It’s been a struggle, she said, because many farmers already sell at other area farmers markets and can’t spread themselves too thin. Crowds at farmers markets are not always large enough to attract farmers.

“It’s meant to be a farmers market. My goal is to have local farmers be able to sell their produce,” Bauer said. “The people want the hometown small markets but then they don’t come out to support the small markets. It’s just a matter of getting people out there.”

She hopes to prove that the demand in Rolesville can support new farmers. As the town grows, she believes it can.

Rolesville has doubled in population over the last decade, according to census data. Plans for new housing developments are underway, and Wake County more broadly has seen an explosion in population from one end to the other.

Bauer said if more people knew about the market, more would show up. Many already have. Now in its second year, the Rolesville Farmers Market has seen steady growth, she said.

There are 10 to 15 vendors setting up stands each Saturday. Most food and art vendors who were regulars last year returned, and Bauer said she was able to get more to apply this year. The market is seeing more customers and — more importantly — more first-time customers, she said.

She’s hoping to add vendors, activities and music to the event. She’s also looking for a larger space, as the market is quickly outgrowing the parking lot of Village Church Rolesville. The church, which is next to town hall, offered up its property for the market.

“To me it’s mostly about community,” Bauer said. “I want my people to meet their neighbors and know there are alternatives to big box stores to buy things.”

One of those vendors is Rolesville-based Sherry’s Cakez, owned by Sherry LaPorte-Raybon. She’s been making pies and cakes for more than two decades and joined the farmers market last summer.

LaPorte-Raybon said as a small business owner who can’t afford store-front property, the farmers market is a welcome avenue to get her name to potential customers.

“Visibility at a low cost — that’s the main thing,” LaPorte-Raybon said. “That’s the hardest thing when you start a business, is visibility.”

She said the farmer’s market “allows a lot of small business owners to get their heads out of the sand.” And to her, the other merchants have become like family on Saturdays. She encourages anyone interested in selling to sign up.

Bauer is optimistic that more farmers will join and has been meeting with farmers to tell them about the market.

She said she and many others want to know where their food comes from and ask questions of the people who grow it. That’s one advantage of the farmers market. Another, she said, is that local food is healthier and small farmers can be more environmentally conscious.

“When you are buying at a grocery store you don’t know when your fruits and vegetables were picked, so usually they aren’t ripe when they are picked,” Bauer said. “When you buy at a farmers market you’re buying something that was picked probably a day or two before you buy it.”

Want to get involved?

The Rolesville Farmers Market is held 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays outside Village Church Rolesville, 410 Sourthern Circle.

Visit facebook.com/rolesvillefm for more information. Vendors interested in joining the market should message that Facebook page and request an application.

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