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'There's so much that North Carolina has to offer' | Matthews farmers' market connects community through locally-grown food

Vendors and visitors were excited for the 31st Grand Opening of farmers' market.

MATTHEWS, N.C. — Farmers' markets have become a trendy thing to do, but the origin of the Matthews Community Farmers Market started as a way to survive.

Sammy Koenigsberg, a co-founder of the market, said keeping neighbors at the heart of it is the key to successful seasons.

"One of the founding purposes was to try and keep agriculture within the growing community. And to do that, small farmers needed to have a viable market," he said.

Koenigsberg said the downside to industrial growth decades ago was decreasing rich farmland.

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"Without governments setting aside land for agriculture and to make farming a more viable option, this is sort of part of the solution, we thought. And so we're still here 30 years later," he said.

Another reason for keeping the market going: it's a positive experience for everyone who comes out.

"It's sort of like a celebration every week. And you know, it just cheers you up. And as you prepare the food that you got here during the week, it sort of brings everything full circle," Koenigsberg said.

He said food from the farmers' market is going to taste better, be more nutritious, and you get to meet the person who grew your food. He said, "[It] is an experience we don't have anymore, where we are now."

Mary Jayne Wilson of Thoughtful Baking Company said she only uses local ingredients to make her chicken pot pies and desserts. She started her business during covid and now sells only at farmers' markets around the Charlotte area. 

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"Being at the market each week, you get to talk to everybody and figure out what they're looking for, and what they want," she said. "And so, we kind of evolved the menu each season to accommodate whatever the local produce is available, and what people wanna buy." 

Wilson said aside from keeping dollars in the local economy, visitors that come to the farmers' market typically care about their food and where it comes from. 

"It's been a really great experience. We have access to all the local food in the region. There's so much that North Carolina has to offer," she said.

The Matthews Community Farmers Market runs every Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon, rain or shine. This season will run until November 19th.

Contact Jane Monreal at jmonreal@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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