The more food that local people make and grow, the more places there have to be to sell it.
My latest example: The old Cabarrus Creamery building, 363 Church St. N. on the edge of downtown Concord. It used to be an ice cream factory, then became a mixed-use building with spaces for small shops.
It’s like a smaller version of the Atherton Mill building in Charlotte, a place that used to be industrial but became organic in the true sense of that word, something that grows into what it needs to be.
One of the things that has taken root there is an all-local food shop called the Peachtree Market. Owner Jennifer Newton is the wife of Aaron Newton, program coordinator for the Cabarrus County Food Policy Council. So she knows a little about who is raising food in the area.
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Growth isn’t always smooth, though. The store started out with three families – the Newtons, Dani and Joe Rowland of Rowland’s Row Family Farm, and Chad and Faith Von Cannon of Creekside Farms.
Having three families didn’t work that well, though.
“We were all trying to piecemeal it together,” says Jennifer Newton. “Somebody’s got to take ownership.”
Jennifer doesn’t farm – “I’ll leave that to someone who loves it” – so she took over the store and let the others go back to growing food. Running the store turned out to be almost as much work as plowing, though. While some of the food, particularly Homeland Dairy’s milk, is delivered to the store, most of the fresh vegetables have to be picked up on the farms.
Since it comes from all over Cabarrus, Rowan and Stanly counties, that means a lot of driving. It’s exhausting, she admits, but it also means she gets to visit a lot of farms. And that’s not rough duty.
The store isn’t big, but it’s packed, with Queen of Oats granolas, Cloister honeys, Lucky Fish fresh fish, stone-ground grits and meal from Old Mill of Guilford. There’s even Nora B’s Sugar Cookies, tubs of dough that come with a small tub of almond icing. (Yeah, like any of that ever makes it to the oven.)
It’s open 1-6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, and you can find details on Facebook (search on Peachtree Market).
When I stopped by, it was a busy afternoon. Newton was dashing in, hefting a big white cooler full of fresh lettuce, a couple of kids in tow. An older woman with white hair was looking for artichoke pickles – very popular and usually sold out – but stayed to shop and swap local memories and connections.
It’s not the only all-local store in the area. It fits into the same model with the Bradford Store in Huntersville, Provisions by Sandy Creek in Waxhaw and Belmont, and the Atherton Market in Charlotte.
“I feel like we’re helping the local economy and offering a service no one else offers,” Jennifer paused long enough to say.
See: It takes a village to sell a state full of food.