The Durham Farmers’ Market runs year ’round on Saturday, and during warmer months is also open on Wednesdays. It’s open today at 3pm – you should go!
Two blocks north on Foster Street from the hotel we stayed at in August was Durham Central Park, which hosts a farmer’s market and I waited all week to go. I love outdoor markets, no matter where I explore them. My travel buddy, Margaret, also loves them and we’ve explored markets around the world. One of my bucket list items is a floating market, which can be found in Asia and Indonesia. I am just as delighted when I find a market closer to home. I am not a shopper; let me distinguish myself from other North American consumers. I usually don’t purchase. But I do love to look and take photos.
Durham Farmers’ Market (I appreciate the correct punctuation in the name) is actually three markets side by side. Though I did not realize this at the time, I wandered through them all and did not miss a thing. With the farmers’ market you will also find the art market and the craft market.
If I was to shop, I would buy produce. I have a hard time resisting fresh produce. But… we would be getting on a plane soon and fresh produce was not a good choice. Another thing I especially look for at Farmers Markets is meat, and this market had multiple cattle farmers, sheep, goats, and also buffalo! There were vendors selling honey, honey products, and beeswax candles. There were heaps of gorgeous brown eggs, and cheeses. There were wines, and syrups, and jellies, and salsas.
Here’s an example that I am not from North Carolina. I came upon a table with boxes of brilliant rhubarb-colured plant things you see in the photo above. “Oooh! What is THAT?” I asked the woman standing there. She answered, “It’s the purple. We tried and tried to get green but this year with the supply chain disruption, all we could get were purple at first. Then finally there was a little green, but it was late in the season.” I tried again. “I don’t recognize this…plant? I’m not from here. What is it?” She told me it was okra. I’m pretty sure my only okra experience was in Basic Training in San Antonio in the chow hall in line with a thousand other Airmen, and it was a slimy mistake to get that stuff on my plate. I have not been interested in trying it again. But…I suppose if people buy it intentionally at farmers’ markets, there must be a better way of preparing it.
Right in the middle of everything was a live band that played favourites and suited the market perfectly. I slowed to take a couple photos while I listened. The Old North State Farm band was entertaining people who shopped, and also people who slowed down or sat down to rest. They play traditional American music, like bluegrass and country.
A man in front spotted my camera and said the band was currently looking for more photos of them in action. I was happy to take extra photos. With the bright day, the dark shaded tent area, the busy location with competing shapes and colours on all sides, I am sad that I couldn’t get better photos. I think a more experienced photographer might have been able to handle this better. For what’s it’s worth, here’s my collection. I think it’s a great glimpse of what these musicians were gifting us: their generous spirit, their voices, the uplifting music.
I needed sustenance and got in line at the bakery. It was a very long line, which is always a good sign. I bought more than I could eat, because it all looked so good. The extras I took back to the hotel later for Pedro.
I left the busy market for a little while, to eat my baked items beside a creek nearby. I watched kids playing in the shade, a degree or two cooler because of the creek. I saw one determined darling girl-child in a delicate dress beeline for the creek and climb right in (it was only about 3 inches deep). Her father was awash in concern, chasing her and spouting, “No, honey, it’s dangerous, you can’t, you’ll fall, be careful, oh honey, now sweetie, please come to Daddy, you’ll hurt yourself…” The whole time, she ignored him, and purposefully made her way down the creek, confidently climbing over rocks when necessary, poking at submerged things with her chubby fingers. When the father passed me, I couldn’t help myself. I said, “She is a confident adventurer. How proud you must be to have such a strong daughter.” It worked! He immediately changed his tune. “You’re doing great, sweetie. I’m so proud of you.”
Ahhh….just doing my tiny feminist bit….
I actually did make some purchases, after all my declarations of not being a shopper. I found a woman selling hair products that I hoped would help tame my frizzy curls. That was a bad choice. It was a 20 oz bottle, and naturally confiscated at airport security. D’oh!! I didn’t even think of that. I saw when I checked my finances later that she had given me a huge discount on the product though, which softened the tragedy. I also bought a beautiful ceramic cup built to fit into a car cup holder, with a notch in the top for a tea bag. It will be a Christmas gift for Tara. I found a woman who sold animated, stylized drawings of favourite characters from movies, TV shows, anime, video games, etc. I bought a couple for Tara and Cameron for stocking stuffers. I bought a cup for myself. I’m trying to increase my collection of coffee cups with no handles. I don’t use the handles. So why even have them? For looks?
Just on the edge of the market, opening to Foster Street, is the art market, where I made a final purchase, this time of a container of King’s Pepper – a non-salty powdered pepper spice. (Ok, fine, I suppose I am a shopper after all) The woman who sold it to me said she usually sold jewelry made out of film. Wha? Yes, she showed me an example that she had in her pocket. After working in Hollywood many years, she was still in love with film, and showed me a pair of dangling earrings with carefully clipped film of an old Hollywood movie (I can’t remember which, but it was easy to see and recognize the scene). Such a clever idea. Many artists were selling their work together under the one roof and it was like a party in there. So much fun.
On my way back to the hotel, I passed an empty bus stop and on the bench was a large, sealed bag of grain from Red Tail Grains. I felt so bad for someone, who had splurged on one bag of high quality, gourmet, bespoke grain, and then left it at the bus stop. That is the exact kind of ding-a-ling move I would make, and I would discover it a mile away and then be kicking myself all the way home.
Our flights home were smooth and uneventful. For all the craziness to be found in air travel in 2022, we were fortunate on both directions to have no problems whatsoever, despite cross-country flights and multiple connections. It did take us a while to find the car when we got back to PDX, but I don’t think I can blame that on the airlines.