It’s a Sunday afternoon at the Carrboro Town Commons as farmers line the gazebo with their fresh produce and local products, creating a cornucopia on every table. A child walks up to the stall presents their newly earned Bunch Bucks, and suddenly they purchased $5 of produce all on their own. This is the Market Bunch. Since 2015 the program has been held every Wednesday during the peak season for produce. It features different activities for kids to get hands on experience with agriculture, such as growing strawberries, making pickles or riding a tractor. Ora Perez has been the assistant manager since 2020 and says the support from the North Carolina Farm Bureau makes the program possible.
That funds things like tastings recipe demos and such. It also allows us to find what we call our Bunch Bucks, which is a $5 coupon that we give to kids when they participate in the activity that can be used to buy fresh fruits and veggies to the market. So it’s a really nice way to sort of like cultivate that health behavior in them, that they come to the market they’re able to get $5 and then kind of make independent or family oriented choices about what fruits and veggies are gonna have.
Of course it’s a fun time for kids and their parents, but it’s also a great time for the farmers. Howard Allen who owns faithful farms says his experience with the farmers market is fulfilling.
I sell a variety of produce, you know, grains, microgreens, some fruit, and just seasonal herbs and we sell these items year round. Best part of the farmers market is the people and the community support and just feels like being a part of a bigger family and being able to serve that family with our local produce.
The farmers aren’t the only local group taking advantage of the space to reach the kids who come the carver or Cybrary, a branch of the Orange County Library partners with the farmers bunch to do storytime readings for the children. Jenna Fishman, who works for the Cybrary, says community is intrinsic to the Market Bunch.
I think it’s great to like get kids involved in the local community, having them you know, outside in public meeting other people. I think that that’s a really important skill to build from a young age. And the fact that we’re able to do that sort of in concert with the farmers market which is also such a like integral part of like the local food ecosystem, I think is just a really great way to get kids like holistically excited about participating in community.
The Market Bunch stands firm and its dedication to providing a space for people to come together and celebrate what it means to be a community.