A surge in demand for local food recently prompted three Cabarrus County farming families to take a chance and open a small grocery store that only sells local and regional products.And just as the local food has helped sustain the residents, residents have stepped up to help sustain the Peachtree Market. Located in the Old Creamery building on Church Street in Concord, it will celebrate its one-year anniversary May 8. The event will include food samples, light hors d’oeuvres and cooking demonstrations using only food found at the market.Originally started through a partnership between the VonCannon family’s Creekside Farms; Rowland Family Farms LLC and the Newton family, the store is now owned and operated solely by the Newtons. However, the other families still help behind the scenes and they’ll still be vendors.Rowland Family Farms last year took over Go Local NC Farms, an online farmers market and delivery service for the Cabarrus, Charlotte and Piedmont/Triad areas. It operates out of the Elma C. Lomax Incubator farm in Cabarrus.Creekside Farms is the market’s sole supplier of meat while Barbee Farms – a local farm that’s more than 100 years old – is a major supplier of its seasonal produce.Jennifer and Aaron Newton, a husband-and-wife team, have been active players, and consumers, in the local food scene. Aaron, a Concord native and coordinator of the local-food system program for Cabarrus County, co-authored “A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil.” Jennifer is proud that her family has purchased virtually all of its produce and meat from local farmers for years. The partnership between Creekside Farms, Rowland Family Farms and the Newton family was in the works for more than two years before they opened.Since opening, the store has expanded from being open 12 hours per week to 30 hours per week. The market has hired three employees to staff and stock the store, and its number of vendors has doubled, from about a dozen to more than 25. The growth in demand also allows the Newtons to keep a larger inventory of products, said Jennifer, who emails weekly updates to a list of roughly 175 active customers.Vendors come from all over the state. They stock pasta from a company in Charleston. They get bread that’s made in Charlotte. The store also carries items such as artisan crackers, pimiento cheese, peanuts, peanut butter, granola, pepper relish, cookie dough, salad dressings and other condiments.Grass-fed, anitbiotic-free beef, pork and chicken that’s raised and processed locally are highly sought-after items, as are the free-range eggs, milk and block cheeses.Jennifer said more and more people are trying to eat locally, thanks to a rising awareness of the economic and health benefits of doing so. Because of the Newtons’ longstanding connections with local farmers, she said, they’re able to better cater to customer demands.“You can buy almost everything you need, grocery-wise, here,” said Jennifer Newton. “I see it lasting, but I’m not a business person, so I’m kind of figuring it out as I go.” Roughly six months after the market opened, Jennifer broke both her arms during a mud run event and was incapacitated for six weeks. She couldn’t perform any task that involved her hands, and that included working at the store. Community members stepped up to help.“I had helpers who drove me around and helped me keep the store operating four days a week,” Newton said. “They had to pick items up from vendors, stock and set up the store, write my checks, help customers with items, take me to the bank. “It was a different person every day, and these were all friends throughout the community.” Rose Rummel-Eury is one of three employees, but she’s also an avid “localvore.” She joined the local food movement in 1998 while living in Portland, Ore. Her church also manages a plot at the Lomax incubator farm, where she met the Newtons. “Every person is trying to make a living by selling the products you see in here,” Rummel-Eury said. “We could go to all the other major groceries, where someone somewhere else is trying to make a living, too, but we’re keeping the money in our local economy, and we’re putting more money back into the economy, through food.”For long-term success, Rummel-Eury said, she’d like to see even longer hours, possibly a bigger space and increased efforts in spreading awareness about the market and local food.“Wherever I go, I talk about it, and the other employees do the same,” she said. “We have new people come in every week.”
Sunday, Apr. 06, 2014
Peachtree Market, Cabarrus County’s first and only local and regional grocery store, turns 1
Want to go?
The Peachtree Market is a farm-fresh, local-food grocery store that specializes in products from the Carolinas and carries everything from seafood and produce to grass-fed beef, pork, chicken, eggs, dairy, honey and other products made throughout the region. It is in The Old Creamery building at 363 Church St. N., Suite 190, Concord. Hours are 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Details: 704-788-1423 or facebook.com/PeachtreeMarket/info.
Learn about local-food efforts: The Carolina Farm Stewards Association and the Cabarrus Food Policy Council will host an event titled “Local Farms, Food and You” 6-8 p.m. April 29 at Cannon School, 5801 Poplar Tent Road, Concord.
To get involved, for details about the Cabarrus County Food Policy Council or to register for the event, visit www.cabarrusfpc.org or call 704-920-2206.
Find local food: www.cabarrusfpc.org/eat-loca/piedmont-farmers-market.
Future event: A “Morning Meet & Greet” planned for May 20 will connect local food buyers with local farmers. The first-time event will be 9:30-11:30 a.m. at the Concord main branch of the Cabarrus County Public Library, 27 Union St. N., Concord.
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