This morning I headed over to the State Farmers' Market in Raleigh for the first time. I was pleased to find that it's covered, which is nice because it keeps you out of the sun (or rain).
The weather outside was (and still is) gorgeous: sunny with a light breeze, not hot or humid. The market is about 15 minutes from where I live. I got there around 10 am, and although judging by the number of cars it seemed busy, there actually weren't that many people. I felt kind of bad that business was so slow, because you always hear about the plight of the modern American farmer. But by the time I left at 11, there were tons more people.
I'm guessing things picked up because churches let out. Also, there is some confusion about the hours on Sunday. The website I checked before I left said it opens at 8 am, but later I found some websites that say noon, and some that say 1 pm. Regardless, most of the vendors were there when I arrived.
The farmers know that if you get a taste of their offerings, it will be hard to resist buying, which is why free samples abound. I ended up taking home tomatoes, zucchini, squash, cucumber, strawberries, peaches, and corn on the cob.
Everything cost me about $15, which might not be that much less than the supermarket, but I think the quality is much better. The strawberries and peaches are super sweet and juicy. Not to mention the fact that everything is ridiculously fresh. The strawberries and corn were "picked this mornin'," as the lady told me. Seriously, the corn was piled up in the back of a pickup truck that had driven up minutes earlier. The tomatoes were definitely a bargain at only $1.25/pound. And it is worth your while to shop around, as different stalls have slightly different prices.
As you walk down the breezeway, the goods for sale gradually change from food to plants. The flowers were beautiful and very reasonably priced.
The garden section is impressive, with lush and colorful plants, as well as every herb you could possibly think of. I never knew there are so many different types of basil!
Up in the specialty building they have eggs, cheese, all sorts of preserves, honey, cured meats, candy, etc., as well as some more produce.
I got some rosemary garlic goat cheese. There are also a few gift shop stalls with embroidered pillows, decorative items, and the like. There was a separate area for crafts outside, but there wasn't anybody there. I think this might be where people sell handmade jewelry, etc., like I've seen at the festivals I've been to. Across the street there is also a Farmers' Market restaurant but I didn't eat there.
Overall it was a nice morning outing, and there was plenty of produce to meet my needs, although I have to admit I expected it to be bigger. I've read that there are 35,000 spaces rented to vendors, and I would say I saw only a hundred or so. I'm sure some of them were taking up two or three spaces, but even if each one was taking up ten spaces, that would only be 10,000. Now, I can't imagine the enormity of a market with 35,000 spaces. I probably wouldn't want to see it because it would be overwhelming. But honestly, I could have finished the market in 30 minutes; I took longer only because I was wandering around trying to find the rest of it! Oh, and there were no avocados to be had. I figured as much; it's a California fruit.