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Keeping It Fresh, Keeping It Local

If ever there were a perfect time to shop at a farmers market, this is surely it. Chain grocery stores are full of people and not always so full of groceries, so having another option is simply wonderful. The fact that shopping at one of our local farmers markets helps out your neighbors is just icing on the cake. And it helps all of us in the long term. The more local food products we buy, the larger the market becomes for local growers, and the more local food we get. This is not only healthy, but it helps cushion our area against broader shortages.

Oak Island and Boiling Spring Lakes are starting to open up their weekly markets, but the town of Belville has kept the Riverwalk Marketplace operating throughout the winter, offering locals the opportunity to keep stocked up on veggies and fresh fish.

We spoke to Jim Bucher, Park Manager and Town Technician for the Town of Belville, about the Riverfront Marketplace and the importance of farmers markets in general.

Is the Marketplace a function of the Town of Belville? How long has it been going on?

The Farmers Market was part of the Vision of the Riverwalk Project when first conceived. In June of 2017, we got in contact with Seaview Crab Company and Port City Produce to give a trial run of their goods in the Brunswick Riverwalk Park. The community took to it right away.

How has the Marketplace grown since the beginning?

It started out with them setting up canopies with tables and has progressed into a large open air Market Pavilion.

What vendors can one expect to find at the Marketplace? Do they change or are they usually the same folks?

Since the beginning, Seaview Crab Company has been our constant vendor being on site all year long. Little Boys Produce has since taken over the produce side and are on their second season. They are normally on site from early May to early fall. We also have had Longboard Coffee Roaster for one season. Great Harvest Bread Company has been with us for over a year but has since stopped due to the pandemic’s effect on its main location. We hope they will be able to return. Also, Noni Bacca Winery was on location for a couple years but has not renewed this year. We hope to keep a healthy, consumable marketplace as was our vision, only taking in highest quality vendors.

The Marketplace has been a huge success since it started. Currently, under these circumstances, Seaview and Little Boys are the only vendors.

What are the days/hours of the Marketplace?

The Market is open Friday and Saturday from 10 am - 6 pm and Sunday 11 am - 4 pm.

What do you see as the importance of buying from local vendors? How has the Marketplace helped the community during the COVID19 pandemic?

The importance for buying local is a win-win. Not only are you supporting local businesses, but you have fresh local products. The open air market has given consumers the confidence of feeling safe and able to implement social distancing with the pandemic concerns. I have received great feedback from visitors of the park for having the market available through these uncertain times.

Who do you see shopping at the Marketplace? Do you see people coming from different areas outside of the immediate Belville/Leland area?

We have seen visitors from across the entire region visiting the Market.

Are you accepting new vendors? If so, how would one apply to be a part?

We are always keeping an eye out for new vendors that fit the marketplace vision. I would love to have a nursery vendor on site. They can reach out to me or The Town of Belville at 910-371-2456.

Oak Island’s Farmers Market takes place on Mondays from 8 am - 1 pm throughout the summer and fall. Find it on the fields behind Town Hall, on SE 46th Street and Dolphin Drive. The Boiling Spring Lakes Neighbors Market can be found next to The Office Coffee and Wine Bar, 3280 George II Hwy, on the first Saturday of the month from 9 am - 2 pm.

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