Local Producers, Local Customers
Situated on a main road in rural Snow Hill, North Carolina, the Elaney Wood Heritage Farmers Market provides area farmers an outlet to sell their harvests and makes local produce accessible to the community. The market sits on land donated by Elaney Wood’s family, the market’s namesake. The Elaney Wood Homestead is a historically significant landmark, and many Snow Hill residents today can trace their heritage to the Wood family.
Up and running for several years now, the Elaney Wood Heritage Farmers Market is a good example of a community-based market that promotes local economic development, improves access to healthy food, and ensures farmland preservation. While the main focus of the market is promoting fresh produce grown within a 50-mile radius, vendors also feature local handmade arts and crafts, and homemade items such as ice cream and BBQ sauces. The farmers market also expands access to healthy food for low-income customers through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), offers healthy cooking demonstrations in its commercial-grade kitchen, and hosts community events like Watermelon Day and Military Families’ Day.
The local North Carolina Cooperative Extension office runs the Elaney Wood Heritage Farmers Market with support from other local organizations and county agencies. Marian Porter, the Local Foods Coordinator, serves as the market manager. In this role, Porter operates the SNAP technology, manages the SNAP process, advertises the market to the community, and serves as the point person for vendors. She, along with several vendors, a Cooperative Extension agent, a county commissioner, and several others, serve on the Advisory Board, which sets guidelines for the market’s operations to ensure ongoing success.
The Cooperative Extension office and its partners have received support from a number of sources, including The Conservation Fund’s Resourceful Communities Program, the Golden Leaf Foundation, North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and others. In addition to direct support, Resourceful Communities is working with market coordinators to promote community engagement and SNAP usage.