Apr. 8—Cameron Burley, chair of the Harrells Farmers Market, shows off his watermelons. Along with Hailey Johnson, he's looking forward to starting a new season for the Harrells Farmers Market
HARRELLS — With goals to provide healthy options from the farm to the fork, leaders of the Harrells Farmers Market are looking forward to kicking off a new season.
The market will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 10, at the town park. Local farmers Hailey Johnson and Cameron Burley are leading the effort with hopes to have more participants in the future when growers have more produce available.
"We wanted to go ahead and get it going so people are aware that we're there," Johnson said about spreading awareness. "As the Sampson County produce starts growing in a little bit more, we want to be a place where their products are available."
This Saturday, AJ Family Farms will be offering meats for purchase. She works with her husband, Caleb Johnson, owner and operator of AJ Family Farms. Burley will be offering produce from the family farm. Arts and craft vendors are also in the lineup.
"By the time we get to the next Saturday, it will be open, and we should start seeing more and more produce become available," Johnson said. "I don't want to call it a hangup because we knew that's how it was going to be based on the weather and things like that. I think it's a good idea to get people in the habit of coming out there, have conversations and fellowship a little bit."
In a couple of weeks, Johnson and Burley would like to continue the market on Saturday, April 24. The goal is to have the market held every other week in May and every Saturday during the summer months.
"We're definitely excited to see it," Johnson said. "We marketed it pretty heavy over the winter and had a lot of conversations with potential vendors and set up a new system to be a little more effective and efficient for the vendors setting up. We wanted to make it more customer friendly with the parking and making sure there's not wait times that are excessive."
Burley and Johnson are graduates of Union High School and were involved in agricultural programs at the school. After earning her diploma, Johnson continued her education at University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Burley, a 2019 Union graduate, grew up selling melons before going to Sampson Community College. In 2020, he added pumpkins to his business.
Before a successful market in October, Town Clerk Cindy Ezzell asked Burley if he would be interested to serving as chair. After accepting the offer and connected with Johnson for the market. As the market continues, officials will work to place emphasis on adding local farmers and young business owners.
Additional information is available online by emailing [email protected] or on social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram. Updates will also be available through the Facebook pages for Johnson's and Burley's respective businesses, www.facebook.com/PastureRaisedGoodness and www.facebook.com/JandCProduce.
Vendors can sign up to join by filling out an application at Harrells Town Hall, 373 Tomahawk Hwy., Harrells. Officials may also be reached by calling 910-284-1444.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-592-8137. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.