Fall coziness and cordiality at the Black Farmers’ Market

The changing foliage seems eager to announce that fall is once again in full swing in the Triangle. Of course, colorful leaves aren’t the only treasure that North Carolina has to offer this season. Autumn is a time for fulfillment after childbirth and sharing the joy of the harvest with family, friends and other like-minded people. For that matter, what could be better than visiting a farmers market with local fall produce to immerse yourself in this season’s beauty?

Smaller and less known to Duke students than the Durham Farmers’ Market, the Black Farmers’ Market (BFM) is mission-driven and charming in its own right.

The first Black Farmers’ Market was held in 2018, as an extension of an initiative called Black August in the Park. “To inspire a self-sufficient community that supports and protects black farmers and entrepreneurs,” the mission statement reads on the official BFM website. The team behind BFM considers it their primary goals to tackle food apartheid, address misconceptions about healthy living and support local black farmers. BFM works with farmers through a membership system to create a “community-oriented space” where everyone has access to affordable healthy food.

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Due to the 100th anniversary of the Homecoming Parade at Hillside High School, the usual venue of Durham BFM, the most recent BFM was temporarily relocated to North Carolina Central University. Yet it was still very busy in the last half hour before closing time. To the side was a tent with a DJ for music. Pleasant aromas of pastries and handmade soap spread across the crisp afternoon air.

One of the first sellers that came into view was Diamond’s ROU Soap Stand. “Rou” is Afrikaans for “raw”, an apt name for her soaps that are made with natural materials such as lemongrass, shea butter and lavender. In addition to classic fragrances, ROU Soap has seasonal selections such as “Autumn Breeze”, “Funky Fall” and “Ghost Town”.

A few tents apart was the tent in front of Pine Knot Farms, a certified organic farm in Hurdle Mills, NC. On the table side were two trays with small test pieces. One was warm walnut bread slathered with Pine Knot’s homemade apple butter and the other was “chow chow dip” – a dipping sauce made by Linda, a co-owner of Pine Knot, with the mild vegetable “chow chow” sauce – topped on pita bread . Made with freshly grown apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and other ingredients, this jar of apple butter captures the best flavor of fall.

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Towards closing time I asked if I could have another piece of walnut bread with apple butter. “Take it all,” said Ann, a member of the Pine Knot team.

Follow the smell of cakes and visitors will find Zalery’s Cake Studio. They seemed popular with customers as there were hardly any choices left in the last half hour. Zalery’s offers a wide variety of cupcakes, desserts, and monthly cake specials.

In one of the center aisles of the tent was Jireh Family Farm, a vendor mainly focused on meat. They currently offer Angus beef, pasture chicken, and Thanksgiving pasture turkey, among others. Their meat can be ordered online and picked up at the farm’s physical location. This farm of the Jarvis family has had four generations of farmers. One of the latest generation farmers is Camille, who shared the main motivation for their focus on meat.

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“We wanted [start from ourselves] to make sure we had clean meat and to provide everyone with clean meat,” Camille said.

Around that time, the background music transitioned from hip-hop beats to a soulful chorus and then faded, signaling the end of this market session. A farewell greeting came from the bandstand: “Thank you all for coming. God bless, and good night.”

The North Carolina Black Farmers’ Markets are held every second Sunday of the month in Durham and every fourth Sunday in Raleigh. The Durham Market is at Hillside High School and the Raleigh Market is at the Southeast Raleigh YMCA. The next Black Farmers’ Market in Durham will be held on November 13. You can help support the Black Farmers’ Market here.


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