Waxhaw: To market, to market even in bad weather
Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013

Waxhaw: To market, to market even in bad weather

Donna Makuch, rear, and her husband, Bill, continue to serve their customers at the Waxhaw Farmers Market in spite of the December weather. The market will be open on Dec. 23 with some gift and food items to round out holiday shopping.

The first Saturday of December certainly fit the mental picture that accompanies the British phrase, “a filthy day.”

The intrepid runners who participated in the GingerSnap 5K race earlier that morning braved a torrential downpour, but they’d also seen the warmest part of the day. By 10 a.m., the temperature in Waxhaw was dropping steadily, and the precipitation cycled between bone-chilling mist and steady drizzle.

The merchants at the Waxhaw Farmers Market were undeterred by the elements. True to the slogan on their newsletter, they were open “Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Rain or Shine!” These are their summer hours, which run April through the Saturday before Christmas.

The Waxhaw Farmers Market is a nonprofit, producer-only market operated by its vendors and volunteers.

“We could be called, rather, a fresh farm market,” said Market Manager Ginette Morrison. “Producer-only means the items you purchase were grown, baked or made by the vendors you meet on Saturday mornings. Throughout 2011 we conducted a survey, and over 97 percent of participants said, ‘I want to buy directly from the producer … ,’ Producer-only markets offer you many obvious advantages such as freshness, uniqueness and the opportunity to ask questions about the items you purchase.”

My mission that morning was to find some fresh collards, and I wasn’t disappointed.

I was greeted with a cheery, “Good Morning, John,” by Donna Makuch. She and her husband, Bill, run the Specialty Farmer stand, and their tables were overflowing with fall vegetables like beets, chard, potatoes and an array of other leafy greens, including the collards I was seeking. I was assured that the greens had been harvested that morning.

While there, I also bought some Brussels sprouts as a tribute to my late mother. We had battled for years over my stoic refusal to eat even one of them. You were right, Mom, they are delicious.

The market’s newsletter said fresh tilapia was being offered for the first time. So I introduced myself to John Lee from Sea Lavender Farm. Lee said his Indian Trail-based operation was the first commercial aquaponics farm in North Carolina.

The tilapia was packed in half-pound portions. It looked so fresh that I bought two packs, along with some hydroponic lettuce.

I then stopped to chat with some old acquaintances, and made some new friends, while I waited to speak with Morrison, who was busy ringing up several customers at the market manager’s tent. When she finished, we talked about both the breadth of new vendors at the market and the market schedule after Christmas.

I told her I was impressed that the Waxhaw Farmers Market was still open while many of the other outdoor markets in the region shut down right after Halloween. Morrision said it’s a question of loyalty to both customers and the vendors. She added that the market will be open on the second and fourth Saturdays in January, February and March, weather permitting.

Meanwhile, Morrison and all the vendors hope to help our readers round out their holiday gift and grocery shopping on Dec. 23. On that day, items such as goat milk soaps, local honey, wool outerwear items, cheese and fruits, pecans, baked goods, locally grown foods, and North Carolina apples and cheeses will be available for purchase. For regular updates on the market and what is offered on any given Saturday, you can go to www.waxhawfarmersmarket and subscribe to their weekly newsletter.

There’s an old adage that describes the Waxhaw Farmers Market: When the going gets tough, the tough keep growing.

Fundraising gala

The Museum of the Waxhaws will host the annual fundraising gala on Dec. 19.

Museum Director Gay Diller said there are a limited number of seats for the “Red, Green and Bluegrass” event, but some are still available. Admission is $50 per person, and tickets can be purchased at www.museumofthewaxhaws.org.

The fundraising event consists of a social hour 7-8 p.m. Then from 8 to 8:45 p.m., there will be a performance and exposition of the history of country music in and around the Charlotte area.

John Anderson is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for John? Email him at jafortrel@aol.com.

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