LUMBERTON — Kerrie Roach wants people to buy local produce, saying it tastes better, is healthier, and will put money — millions of dollars potentially — into the hands of local folks, who will spend it while boosting the economy.
That’s on Roach’s mind as she plans the third annual Summer Harvest Extravaganza, which will be held Saturday at the Robeson County Farmers Market at the corner of Eighth and Elm streets.
“We do it to create a buzz about the market,” said Roach, the horticulture extension agent at the Robeson County Cooperative Extension. “People forget that Robeson County is full of great products that you can buy direct from the farm. Eating local is not only good for your health, but it is good for our economy.”
The event, which starts at 8 a.m., will feature cooking demonstrations, information booths and prizes. It is part of the Cooperative Extension’s goal to promote the 10 Percent Local Food Campaign, which encourages people to sign up for the plan to spend some of their food money locally.
“It’s not asking them to spend money that they aren’t already spending for their food, it’s just asking them to spend it on local produce,” said Janice Fields, an extension family and consumer services agent. “It’s much healthier for us to spend it on local produce than it is to spend it on processed foods.
“No. 1, the food is fresher,” Fields said. “When you’re buying in your own community you’re putting your money back into the community. … You are getting fresher food, more nutritious food. You can sit down with a farmer and ask them how they grow their produce.”
Blueberries, cabbage, carrots, corn, cucumbers, honey, okra, onions, peaches, peppers, potatoes, snap beans, squash, tomatoes, turnips, watermelon, zucchini, and more will be available. Each vendor is certified by an extension agent, verifying that they have homegrown produce.
Danny Kinlaw, the president of the farmers market, sells his crops at the market as well.
“This is as fresh as you can get it,” Kinlaw said. “They can’t get it fresher anywhere, unless they pick it themselves. … You know the people you are buying from. It’s neighbors buying from neighbors.”
Fields will be demonstrating and providing samples of recipes made from the vendors’ products.
“We’ll be grilling vegetables,” Fields said. “We don’t have the menu set in stone yet. It depends on … what the farmers say is available or us to grill … . We’ll be using a variety of different seasonings and I have a tomato salad recipe that I want to try to get people to taste the products.”
On the menu will be grilled veggies with seasoning rubs, cold soups and dips.
“This is a great way from families to spend their Saturday mornings,” Roach said. “Come check out the local products, meet the farmers, and spend quality time with your family. Farmers markets are great opportunities to network and create long lasting friendships.”
For information, visit www.ncsu.edu/project/nc10percent/index.php or call the Cooperative Extension at (910) 671-3276.
Following are some local produce growers:
n Geraldine’s Peaches and Produce, located at 10728 N.C. 41 North in Lumberton, offers pre-picked and you-pick options. For information, call (910) 739-8686.
n Southeastern Agricultural Center Farmers Market, located at 1027 U.S. 74 East in Lumberton, is open Monday through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. For information, call (910) 618-5699.
n Floyd Farms Strawberries, located at 5043 Stone Road in Fairmont, is owned by Kenneth Floyd. For information, call (910) 740-6151.
n Bo’s Berry Patch, located at 2190 Ashpole Church Road in Rowland, is owned by Bo Stone. The hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from mid April to mid June. They offer a market and a you-pick option. For information, call (910) 422-8659.
n Jack Pait Strawberry Farm, located at 1561 Old Allenton Road in Lumberton, is owned by Ron Pait. For information, call (910) 734-7420. They are open Mondays through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and offer pre-picked and a you-pick option for strawberries.
n Powers Strawberries & Farmers Market, located at 906 Barker Church Road in Lumberton, is owned by Mitzi and Jimmy Powers. In the spring, they are open from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For information, call (910) 738-9404.
n Strawberries on Elizabethtown Road, located on N.C. 41, is owned by Ronny Wilkerson. For information, call (910) 733-0561 or (910) 739-3315.
n McPherson’s Honor System, located at 11707 N.C. 72 East in Lumberton, is owned by Jeff McPherson. For information, call (910) 737-6287.
n Locklear Farm, located at 9840 Deep Branch Road in Pembroke, is owned by Ellery Locklear. For information, call (910) 521-4323 or (910) 734-4781.
n Packhouse Farms, located at 74 Antioch Road in Lumberton, opens around June 25 depending on the weather. For information, call (910) 739-6981.
n Bob’s Pick & Pay is located at 3887 Old Stage Road in Fairmont. For information, call (910) 618-6580.
n G.R. Autry & Son, located at 1385 McGougan Road in Lumber Bridge, opens on July 5. For information, call (910) 875-3787.