Lexington and Thomasville Farmers Markets to Expand Year-Round with USDA Grant
(Lexington, NC) -- The Lexington Farmers Market and the Thomasville Farmers Market will jointly launch the Davidson County Winter Farmers Market in January 2022 at Bull City Ciderworks in Lexington and expand pop-up markets throughout Davidson County year-round. This expansion is made possible through a three-year $360,112 grant awarded to the Lexington Farmers Market last month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers Market Promotion Program.
The Winter Farmers Market will start with eight dates at Bull City Ciderworks in January through April 2022, beginning on January 8, 2022. If the weather is mild, vendors will set up outside on the covered patio. When it’s too cold, vendors will set up inside the event space in the taproom.
“When John Clowney [CEO of Bull City Ciderworks] offered up their gorgeous new space to us for a Winter Market, we immediately wanted to say Yes. But we had to find the funding to make it happen first,” said Kivi Leroux Miller, president of the Lexington Farmers Market, which is a nonprofit organization. “The USDA grant programs are always very competitive, but with extra funding available due to the pandemic, the offer from Bull City, and interest from our local farmers in doing more pop-up markets in different locations, we knew we had to go for it this year,” said Miller.
USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program awarded $37.5 million in November to 84 projects nationwide for direct producer-to-consumer marketing projects such as farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs, roadside stands, and agritourism. Six organizations in North Carolina received funding, including the Lexington Farmers Market and the Cobblestone Farmers Market in Winston-Salem.
In addition to funding the Winter Farmers Market and pop-up markets year-round, the grant also creates a new Local Foods Marketing Coordinator position to manage significant increases in the marketing budget for signage and print and online advertising. The grant will also fund mobile kitchen equipment so that the farmers markets can host more cooking demos, showing residents different ways to cook with fresh, local produce and meats. Individual farmers can also receive marketing assistance for their own farm stands and online ordering systems.
“Both the Lexington and Thomasville Farmers Markets are very small but mighty organizations and we relied on many partners to write a winning proposal,” said Miller. For example, Miller attended grant writing coaching sessions specifically for the Farmers Market Promotion Program with Darlene Wolnik of the National Farmers Market Coalition and with Dr. Chyi Lyi Liang of NC A&T State University. “There are so many little details and nuances to writing a federal grant, and the advice we received was so helpful in getting those specifics just right,” said Miller.
The grant application also included many community letters of support from organizations willing to host pop-up markets, including the City of Lexington, City of Thomasville, Uptown Lexington, Davidson-Davie Community College, and others. “The reviewers were able to see how well everyone in Davidson County who cares about local foods and farming are working together, and that makes a big difference,” said Miller.
Both farmers markets will continue to operate at their regular locations during the peak growing seasons. The Lexington Farmers Market is open May through October at the historic train depot at 129 S. Railroad Street in Lexington. The Thomasville Farmers Market operates April through October at 21. E. Guilford Street in Thomasville.
The Lexington Farmers Market and Thomasville Farmers Market are both local producer-only markets, meaning that all vendors grow, produce, make, or bake everything they sell and must be based in Davidson County or a surrounding county. All vendors participating in the Winter Farmers Market or pop-up markets must be members in good standing of either the Lexington Farmers Market or the Thomasville Farmers Market.
“Pop-up Markets” are farmers markets held at temporary locations, usually one time only or for a limited number of dates.
The Winter Farmers Market will be open from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Bull City Ciderworks in Lexington on the following Saturdays:
More details about the Winter Farmers Market and other activities funded by the USDA grant will be shared in the coming weeks. For updates, please follow the farmers markets on social media and visit their websites.
Lexington Farmers Market:
Thomasville Farmers Market: