By Laurie Paolicelli
The Carrboro Farmers’ Market (the CFM) is one North Carolina’s classic farmers’ markets, and Maggie Funkhouser, the general manager, is one very big reason why.
Maggie received an undergraduate degree in Classical Languages from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a graduate degree from Vanderbilt in Classical Languages and Literature and Linguistics. She thought she would spend her career teaching. But a love of food, a baking job at Weaver Street Market, and an appreciation of that unique intersection of food and community hooked her, and she now enjoys overseeing one of the finest farmers’ markets in the state. The CFM is as lucky to have her as she is to have the CFM.
Alongside her assistant, Laura Perez, the two light up talking about which farm a certain head of lettuce came from and getting recipe ideas from the farmers who grew it. It’s that time of year. Farmers’ markets everywhere kick into high gear as spring settles in, and so do the festivals and jamborees dedicated to the food they sell.
The first is the Strawberry Jamboree on Wednesday, May 18th. North Carolina ranks around third in national production of fresh market strawberries, and Funkhouser and Perez can get excited talking about the pies, tarts and fresh berries that will fill the grounds. Volunteers from the market will have the bike blenders set up for kids (of all ages) to make their own smoothies. BikeCarrboro will have an information table with coloring pages and literature and bike pins for the kids.
Tomato Fest on July 9th inspires a giddy kind of anticipation as well. All tomatoes grown in North Carolina are grown for fresh market – and it’s a 30-million-dollar market. This represents 1.6 percent of U.S. fresh-market tomatoes, ranking North Carolina 10th in production of tomatoes. Most of the industry uses conventional practices, but there is a growing organic market, too.
The Carrboro Farmers Market (CFM) has long been a place where consumers can purchase fresh produce, pastured meat, and homemade prepared foods from local farmers and artisans. Now considered one of the top markets in the South and a model for markets nationwide, the CFM represents a deep and rich historical tradition that continues to serve as a beacon of innovation and inspiration.
Founded in 1979 in partnership with the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Health, the CFM is one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the state. It is nestled next to the Carrboro Town Hall, barely a mile from the bustling center of the UNC campus. Having grown out of its original location in the 1990s, today the market spans a converted baseball field, where as many as 65 vendors set up shop on Saturdays year-round, as well as every Wednesday during peak season.
Not only are all CFM goods made or grown within a fifty-mile radius, but the market also takes pride in its stipulation that the farmers and artisans themselves vend the goods that they produce. This gives customers the opportunity to establish important relationships with the producers of the foods they consume.
Visit the Farmers’ Market on a Wednesday afternoon or a Saturday morning. It all seems so . . . natural, and it is. But nothing this good happens by accident. Maggie Funkhouser is one of the animating spirits of the CFM and Carrboro itself: she is a classic, in every way. When a love of literature and a love of food collide, only good things can happen, and such is the case with Maggie and the Farmers’ Market. Like the town itself, Funkhouser is complex, interesting, and unique. And also like this town and almost everyone in it, she greatly loves strawberries and tomatoes, among many, many other things.
Carrboro Farmers’ Market
301 West Main Street, Carrboro, NC
Saturdays, 7:00 AM – Noon
Wednesdays, 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
2022 Special Events
- Strawberry Jamboree: Wednesday, May 18th – Press Release
- Tomato Day: Saturday, July 9th
- Market Bunch Kids Club activities every Wednesday during the Main Season!
Check out the best strawberry recipes in NC: https://ncstrawberry.com/consumers/recipes
And read about legendary and landmark tomato pies in North Carolina: https://www.ourstate.com/tomato-pie
Laurie Paolicelli is the Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.