New farmers market to help Burlington "food desert"

BURLINGTON, N.C. -- By U.S. Department of Agriculture standards, Burlington's North Park area is a food desert.

But not for long.

Nonprofit Healthy Alamance announced that North Park will soon be home to the North Park Farmers Market.

"We see it as a real opportunity to foster relationships between consumers and producers, and bridge the gap," Healthy Alamance Executive Director Ann Meletzke said.

Ann Byrd, who lives right next to North Park, said this could be the biggest change in her neighborhood in the 30 years she has lived there.

"That will make a totally huge difference," she said. "Because I like to cook. I don't cook from cans. I cook. And the fresh vegetables -- I buy all the time."

Local farmers, like Jordan Walker of Barking Dog Farms, said he looks forward to the opportunity to participate in another Burlington farmers market, in addition to the one already downtown.

"I couldn't do what I do without farmers markets," he said. "I know most of my customers by name. See them a few times a week. And to see the joy on their face when they tell me how delicious it was -- it's very satisfying."

He added that serving the North Park neighborhood will be especially rewarding.

"We can get nutritious fruits and vegetables to people on all ends of the economic scale," he said. "Making high-quality food accessible to all. Everybody deserves that."

The North Park Farmers Market is possible thanks to a grant awarded to Healthy Alamance from Impact Alamance.

The first day for the farmers market will be Tuesday, April 5 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at North Park on Sharpe Road in Burlington. It will continue every Tuesday after that through October.