Higher grocery store prices have some rethinking local farmers’ markets

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 12:47 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - North Carolina is one of the top turkey producers in the U.S., second only to Minnesota. Sixty-five percent all sweet potatoes are grown right here. Close to one million acres are dedicated to growing corn. All of it is locally sourced for your Thanksgiving table.

Local growers are thankful as more and more people take notice.

People stop by local produce stands and farmers markets for a reason.

“It goes through less hands, less people are touching it, it lasts longer in your refrigerator,” said Julie Svenson with the Wilmington Farmers Market. “There’s just something about seeing the person, right in front of you, who grew your food.”

“We work really hard delivering to our local restaurants. You can’t beat fresh,” said Michael Torbet who runs Terra Vita Farms. He delivers to about 30 different local restaurants offering seasonal produce and micro-greens. He believes the recent spike in grocery store prices could be a slam dunk for local farmers markets.

“I think in the upcoming months you see a change, a pull, so to speak,” said Torbet. “I think you’re going to start seeing the prices of grocery store food coming up to the point where the farmers’ market is offering the same thing for the same price, essentially.”

Supply chain issues are impacting NC farms, getting product to market as quickly as possible. Scotts Farms, in Wilson County, pumps out about two and half million sweet potatoes a week. They’ve seen issues in shipping and manpower in getting those potatoes to market.

“Our job is to prepare for that get, get through it, and prepare for better times ahead,” said Dewey Scott.

“It’s been a creative challenge,” said Conor MacNair. He owns N. Sea. Oyster Company. His farm, off the Tosail Coast, harvests about 15-25 thousand oysters a week. “We ship to California, Washington DC, have a loyal local base. It’s a great way to get in the door, talk about what makes Coastal North Carolina living so awesome and get those oysters to market.”

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