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Did you know Cary has had a farmers' market for 29 years?

24 Nov 2022 8:47 PM | Kerry Mead (Administrator)

1994 was the year the Cary Downtown Farmers Market came to town. There were a few co-ops, farm stands, and popup markets in different locations over the years, but no formal farmers market existed in Cary prior to 1994. Cary started out as an agricultural community and many residents grew their own vegetables, so there was little need for a farmers' market in the beginning.

Donna Walker and her beeswax candles booth at the Train Station location

Starting in the middle of the 20th century, you could find fruit, vegetable, and egg stands/markets at different locations along Chatham Street, including:

  • Mack’s Fruit Stand that sold fruit and vegetables across from Taylor Biscuit Company (now where Martin’s Architectural is located on Chatham Street)

  • An egg market co-op on Chatham near Harrison

  • An egg market at Chatham and Reedy Creek Road

Several factors came together in the early 1990s to help the market get started. One farmer, then another, sold their produce at Ashworth Village for several years. Seeds of Hope, a grass-roots organization affiliated with the NC Council of Churches, was also active in Cary and trying to find ways to help small farmers find a direct market. Finally, the Cary Chamber (and Ralph Ashworth, Chamber Chair) got involved, and supported the formation of the farmers market.

Market fridge magnet from the 1990s

Where the market has been located:

  • 1994: Sorrel’s parking lot (the current La Farm building)

  • 1995: The Town’s Municipal Parking Lot on Academy Street

  • 1996-2009: Cary Train Depot parking lot

  • 2010-2011: Chatham Square Shopping Center

  • 2012:2014: Office building parking lot at current-day Mayton Inn site, corner of Park and Academy Streets

  • 2014-2022: Ivey-Ellington house grounds

  • Nov 2022 to now: The Perfect Piece parking lot: 

Cary Downtown Farmers Market at the Ivey-Ellington

Market managers through the years:

  • Lloyd and Barbara Norris

  • Scotty Spahr

  • Donna Walker

  • Michelle Blackley

  • Karmen Patterson

  • Rick Savage

  • Leah Smith

  • Brett Pinsent

Current-day patron favorite -- Jason of Parker Farms
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