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Farmers Market

Fresh, Local, Now: County Markets Benefit All

By Ryan Jones

DETA-5 Grocery store lines may soon look a little shorter as hundreds of Davidson County residents begin to ditch fluorescent lighting in favor of sunshine and open air.

From late spring through early fall, three farmers markets in Lexington, Thomasville, and Denton become the destinations of choice for those looking to shorten the divide between farm and table. But visitors to these markets are doing much more than filling their own fridges with healthful options. They are boosting the local economy and helping small-time farmers make ends meet.

Supported by the Davidson County Cooperative Extension office, all three markets are deemed grower-only and local-only, meaning vendors are not permitted to sell anything that they didn’t grow personally or purchase directly from another local farmer. According to vendor guidelines, a farm is considered local if it is within Davidson County or a contiguous county.

In addition to favoring provincial farmers, this emphasis on geography means a fresher, healthier, and tastier product, says Amy-Lynn Albertson, the horticulture extension agent for Davidson County.

“If you’ve only ever gotten asparagus from the grocery store you have no idea what you’re missing. The produce at your grocery store has traveled on average around 1,500 miles. Produce starts losing nutritional value the second it’s harvested,” Albertson says.

“It’s also a matter of knowing where your food comes from and … spending your dollars locally,” she adds. “For every dollar you spend at the farmers market, at least 90 cents goes straight to the farmer, who in turn buys supplies and other things locally. It has a multiplier effect.”

Lexington Farmers Market

download (9)The county’s most well-attended market is tucked amid fallen furniture factories under the cover of the old train depot on Railroad Street. The Lexington Farmers Market features a weekly average of around 22 vendors selling seasonal produce, plants, meat, honey, prepared foods, baked goods, crafts, and more. Unofficial counts have placed shopper attendance as high as 500 people over the course of a day.

“The community really has embraced the farmers market,” says Albertson, admitting that she initially was nervous that the location would be detrimental. “The depot is not where regular traffic runs through town. It’s not Main Street. But the city has been very supportive in getting signage and promoting it (the market) and we’ve gotten a lot of support from neighboring businesses.”

Southern Lunch was closed on Saturdays when the Lexington Farmers Market was established in 2005, but soon started opening for breakfast, which helped draw visitors into the vicinity.

In 2008, a grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission helped further the City of Lexington’s plans to renovate the train depot structure, which allowed the market to move from the street into its current home.

“We still struggle with visibility and every week people come and say ‘I didn’t know this was here.’ (But) the market has worked hard to have events and organize itself well. It formed a 501(c)5 (designation as an agricultural corporation) in 2011, which gives it tax exemption and opens it up for more grants,” says Albertson.

She adds that in the 10 years since it was founded, the market has helped establish a sense of community for Uptown Lexington. “It’s a social event. It’s really a lot about relationships. A lot of the growers have developed strong friendships.”

“It’s a gathering place,” agrees Brenda Garner, who owns Sandy Creek Farm on Highway 150. “It’s become a place where friends come to shop, bring their kids. It’s a Saturday morning ritual for a lot of folks.”

Garner and her family are among the very first vendors to sell at the Lexington Farmers Market. Being relatively new to farming at the time, she says they needed the support of a public venue.

“There was no question that we would do it,” she says. “It keeps you out there. I like being with people and for them to see the things we have and learn about how we do things.”

Garner considers Sandy Creek to be a niche farm, specializing in things many growers don’t offer like shitake mushrooms, figs, blueberries, and blackberries.

“We like to teach and help people understand how something is grown or recipes on how to cook it. A lot of times we’ll have tastings. We really believe in community and we love being out there. It’s not something we feel like we have to do. We do it because we want to.”

Beth Leonard, owner of Beth’s Greenhouse and acting president of the Lexington Farmers Market, is also a founding vendor. She says she has been involved as a volunteer from day one because she recognized the positive impact it would have.

“It’s something Lexington and Davidson County really didn’t have. When I learned that it was going to be a restrictive market wherein you have to grow what you sell (and it would be) the only market where you’re pretty much guaranteed that it’s local produce … that was just something I wanted to support,” she says. “I wanted to see that kind of market happen.”

The Lexington Farmers Market is open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. starting May 2 and on Wednesdays from __ a.m. – __ starting in June. A full schedule of special events is listed online at

Thomasville Farmers Market28623

Around the same time that Lexington founded its market, a nonprofit organization in Thomasville set the wheels in motion for one of its own.

People Achieving Community Enhancement (PACE) has anchored its mission in revitalizing the downtown area of Thomasville by encouraging relationships and cooperation between merchants, city officials, and residents. The group came together to raise the funds needed to purchase a vacant lot on the corner of Commerce and Guilford streets from the City of Thomasville and build a structure to house a farmers market.

“Thomasville has a different community than Lexington does. It has been a struggle for the Thomasville Farmers Market to really get the customer support that they need,” says Albertson, who attributes this mostly to the lack of activity in downtown Thomasville on a typical weekend morning. “We need both customers and vendors. It’s hard to get the two to come together.”

But the future looks promising and the Thomasville Farmers Market is slowly meeting its goal of providing a source of farm-fresh food to people without much historical access to it.

“It has seen a lot of improvement in the last three years,” says Albertson. “Thomasville is starting to embrace more local foods. Newer businesses are opening like Southern Sisters, which is very supportive.”

Beginning this season, the market will also be able to support purchases using EBT, debit and credit cards.

“It has always been a smaller market,” says Marrillyn Conrad, who manages the Thomasville Farmers Market. She is expecting an increase in the number of regular weekly vendors from around five last year to as many as 13 this year due to more recruiting.

“I’m trying to build that up by advertising EBT … and trying to get more transportation. The community can help by spreading the word,” she says.

Conrad’s passion and desire to help the Thomasville Farmers Market reach its potential is twofold. She wants to connect growers to the people who need exposure to more nutritional options while boosting the local economy.

“I want to see children from low-income families getting good, homegrown food. Thomasville is a poor area. The more money we can get to stay here, the better,” she says. “It’s good food and your get your money’s worth. The reward is a lot better. We may not have a big area, but we have a big variety. We’re just common folk. We’re a family market.”

The Thomasville Farmers Market is open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. – noon starting May 9 and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. starting in June. More information can be found online at

Denton Community Farmers Market

market-logo Established in 2011 with a grant from Central Park North Carolina, The Denton Community Farmers Market can be found on Salisbury Street across from Harrison Park. The smallest of the three, this market features around three or four regular weekly vendors and many scheduled contests and events throughout the summer.

Like its sister markets, the Denton Farmers Market features staple produce like corn, tomatoes, strawberries, and blueberries with some vendors offering hanging baskets, crafts, and other foods.

Brenda Hogan manages the market and has made it her mission to grow the number of vendors and shoppers in the coming years.

“I try to bring in entertainment and things going on like quilt competition, watermelon eating contests, and live gospel, bluegrass and country music. Our market is not as big as Lexington’s (and) we struggle some,” says Hogan, adding that it’s worth a visit to the southern part of Davidson County to give the small market a chance. “Come try us out,” says Hogan.

Following a grand opening celebration on May 2 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., The Denton Community Farmers Market is open Saturdays from 8 a.m. – noon, and Friday and Wednesday evenings from 4:30 – 8:30 p.m. A full schedule of events can be found online at



  • Bring Cash. There are some vendors who are willing to swipe your Visa, but many others who only accept cash. It’s probably a good idea to pay a visit to the ATM before your trip.
  • Reusable Bags. Vendors may supply bags for your purchases, but seasoned market shoppers know that a sturdy, roomy shopping bag or basket will make your purchases easier to wrangle. Plus you’ll score points for being green.
  • Take a Lap: Before you buy anything, take a walk around to see what each vendor has to offer. Selection and price can vary and it’s best to know what your options are.
  • Ask Questions: Not sure what to do with Thai basil? Stumped by shitake mushrooms? Chances are excellent that the vendor will be more than happy to give you a few suggestions or recipes.

Want to become a vendor?

Contact Amy-Lynn Albertson, horticulture extension agent for Davidson County Cooperative Extension. (336) 242-2085.





Water Safety this Summer

SPASH!! Safety on the Water

The fun of the summer is here and that means long summer days enjoying the lake, pools, beaches and outdoors. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in all the fun and forget about our safety. We want everyone to stay safe this summer, so here are a few reminders about safety that we hope you’ll remember this year!

When you’re planning a great day of fishing, it’s important to fish with a buddy. So many accidents can happen when you’re fishing alone, so grab a friend and enjoy the time together.

If you’re 14 years or older you are not required to wear a life jacket, but similar to “Seat Belts Saves Lives,” so do life jackets. Everyone, regardless of age, is strongly encouraged to wear a life jacket while on the water.

Check your safety equipment prior to launching a water vessel. Local North Carolina Wild Life and Sheriff’s personnel will be patrolling the water for your safety. It’s important to make sure you have the required safety equipment necessary to use the watercraft. Make sure all life jackets are up to date and there are enough for those using the watercraft.  Be prepared to show proper personal identification, watercraft registration and have all safety equipment required prior to use.

Obey weight limits or occupancy safety regulations on your watercraft.

Individuals under the age of 14 are not allowed to operate a personal watercraft. A person between ages 14 and 16 can operate a personal watercraft if accompanied by a person who is at least 18 or has proof of a boating safety certification. This certification was put into law in July 2009. It required individuals to have working knowledge of water vessels and has passed the safety course. For more information on this course, contact the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department.

Do not participate in reckless behavior while riding or driving a watercraft. Some of these behaviors include:

  • Unreasonably or unnecessarily weaving through traffic in congested areas
  • Jumping the wake of another vessel within 100 feet
  • Intentionally approaching another vessel in order to swerve at the last moment to avoid collision
  • Operating contrary to the “rules of the road.” An example would be following too closely

No one should operate any motorboat or vessel, or manipulate any water skis, surfboard, or similar device while under the influence or impaired by any substance.

ALCOA does NOT allow any alcohol products of any kind at their accesses, including the Pebble Beach and Buddle Creek Swimming Areas. Pets are also not allowed at swimming areas.

Whatever way you choose to enjoy your summer on the water, take these safety concerns with you so everyone has an enjoyable and safe time. This information was provided by the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department. If you have any questions related to water safe visit


Essential Oils at The Nature Cottage

An Introduction to Essential Oils

By Susan Hilton RN, MSN

Essential Oils have been used for centuries. In the history of mankind it seems that the Egyptians were the first people to make extensive use of aromatherapy and aromatic herbs, and included their use in religion, cosmetics and health and wellness purposes.

Aromatic essences and resins were used extensively in the embalming process. It was thought that most essential oils were produced in Egypt by the method known as enfleurage extraction. But the Egyptians did have access to the distillation method through the Mesopotamians, as distillation pots have been found at Tepe Gawra dating back to about 3,500 BC.

essential-oils (1)The medicinal wisdom of the Egyptians was taken over and absorbed by the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates (c.460 – 377 BC), the most well-known physician of that time, was also a firm believer in treating the patient holistically and included aromatherapy massage as a treatment.

The term aromatherapy as we know it today was first coined in 1937 by the French chemist and perfumer Rene Maurice Gattefosse. He was not a believer in the natural health movement, but was interested in the properties that essential oils exhibited.

In 1910, Gattefosse burned his hand badly in his laboratory and, using the first available compound handy, treated his badly burned hand with pure undiluted lavender oil. This not only immediately eased the pain, but helped heal the hand without any sign of infection or scar. He also found that minute amounts of essential oils are absorbed by the body and interact with the body chemistry.

During the Second World War, as a result of Gattefosse’s experiments, Dr. Jean Valet used essential oils with great success to treat injured soldiers. In the 1950s, Marguerite Maury started diluting essential oils in vegetable carrier oil and massaging it onto the skin using a Tibetan technique, of applying oils along the spinal column in the area of spinal nerve endings. She was also the first person to start the use of “individually prescribed” combinations of essential oils to suit the needs of the person being massaged.  Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, the use of essential oils and aromatherapy has become a major part of alternative and holistic health systems, and now has a huge following across the world.

So, what are essential oils? Essential oils are the volatile liquids of the plant. They are the essence of the plant. They are obtained from properly distilling any part of the plant, including the seeds, roots, bark, stems, leaves, fruit, flowers or branches.

Essential oils are convenient, quick and easy to use. They support the body and help it to come back into balance without harmful side effects or the use of chemical based products. The molecule size of essential oils is so small that they can immediately penetrate the skin and cell membranes. They contain oxygen molecules that can transport nutrients to cells that are nutrient and/or oxygen deprived. Our cells need oxygen!

Essential oils are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants strengthen the body’s systems to help prevent the damaging effects of aging, poor diet, and the environment, and they help to eliminate free radicals.

Essential oils soothe muscles and joints. They support the immune system. They soothe digestion. They revitalize aging skin and soothe irritated skin. Essential oils benefit green household products. Essential oils are non-toxic and promote wellness.

Essential oils can be used by three methods: topical application or direct application on the skin; inhalation of the oils; internal consumption by taking them orally. Internal consumption may include swallowing a capsule of oil, placing the oils in a drink or putting them directly in your mouth. Please check to make sure your oils can be taken in this manner!

Most edible (ingestible)  oils are designated by the following labels:

GRAS – Generally Regarded as Safe. Examples are Lemon, Orange and Peppermint essential oils.

FA – FDA Approved Food Additive. Examples are Clove and Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) essential oils.

FL – Flavoring Agent. Examples are Eucalyptus (certain species) and Valerian essential oils.

At The Nature Cottage we have a knowledgeable staff ready to help you with your health or wellness issues. We offer several therapies using essential oils as well as consultations to review your history to determine how essential oils can benefit your health. We’re located at 208 E. Center St in Lexington.


Cool Summer Recipes

Chill Out with Cool Summer Recipes

130626-Summer-fruit-punch167367469-676x450Nothing is better on a summer afternoon or evening than a refreshing cold beverage. Unwind and relax with a few of these amazing summer refreshments. Share a glass and share the love of summer with your friends or neighbors. Many of these recipes will be great for baby showers, bridal parties, outdoor summertime fun and a wealth of other occasions. So, come on and chill a little!

Melon Ball Punch


  • 25.4 oz. sparkling white grape juice
  • 2 c. clear lemon lime flavored soda
  • 1 c. lemonade
  • 1 small ripe watermelon
  • 1 small ripe cantaloupe
  • 1 small ripe honeydew melon
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • 2 limes, sliced, plus more for garnish if desired

In a pitcher, stir together the juice, soda and lemonade, then put in the refrigerator to chill and blend together. While the juices are in the fridge, use a melon baller to scoop out the flesh of the melons. Place the balls on a foil lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer. Let them stay in the freezer until frozen through. Once frozen, add melon balls to pitcher as well as mint leaves and sliced lime. Do not add all the melon balls at one time. Make sure you have room to stir in the pitcher. Refrigerate for 30 additional minutes to let all the flavors blend. Serve cold in a glass and add additional melon balls as ice cubes. Garnish with lime and mint and enjoy!
Blackberry Sage Cooler


  • 15 medium size sage leaves
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 8 oz. blackberries

Bring water and sugar to boil over high heat and keep on heat until sugar is dissolved, then remove from the heat. Crush sage leaves with a mortar and pestle or with the back of a spoon. Add the sage leaves to the simple syrup and set aside for approximately 15 minutes for the sage to infuse the syrup. While it infuses, puree the blackberries in a blender. Once pureed, send through a fine strainer to remove all the seeds. To serve add one tablespoon of puree and one tablespoon of sage syrup to a glass and fill remaining with club soda. Add a fresh mint leaf or blackberry garnish to the glass and serve.

Lavender Lemonadedownload (7)

  • ¾ c. water
  • ½ c. sugar
  • Frozen lemonade concentrate (or freshly made)
  • 3-4 organic lavender buds

Heat water and sugar on stove until sugar is dissolved, then add lavender buds to infuse mixture. Remove from heat and let cool. Add prepared lemonade, minus one cup of water, to pitcher. Strain lavender from syrup. Add syrup mixture to lemonade and stir. Let refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. For coloring you can add one drop of red and one drop of blue food coloring to ¼ cup of water and add into mixture. Note: Instead of using lavender buds, you can use lavender essential oil. Please check to ensure essential oil is 100% therapeutic and safe for ingestion.

Quick, Healthy conversions

  • 2 c. sugar = 1 c. honey
  • 1 c. sugar = ½ c. agave nectar
  • 1 c. sugar = 1 c. coconut sugar

Homemade Sports Quencher

  • ½ liter ginger water (recipe below)
  • 1 liter water
  • Juice of 3 small lemons
  • ½ tsp. sea salt (or omit or add to, if necessary)
  • Honey to taste (can substitute Stevia or sweetener)

Ginger Water

  • 1 medium ginger root
  • 1 liter water
  • Honey or stevia to taste

Cut ginger root into large coin size pieces. In a medium size pot, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool and then add desired sweetener. Store in fridge.

Mix all ingredients together and place in fridge for at least 30 mins. Drink and Enjoy!

Snazzy Up Your Glass: Freezing Ice Cubes for Flare

Add a little pizazz to your cup this summer with these frozen ice cube ideas. Take an ordinary drink and make it extraordinary with a few simple ideas. Color, ingredients and even flowers will add a beautiful punch to your summertime favorites with these iced up ideas.

Crushed Up Fruit Cubes

Take your favorite fruits like watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, or any fruit of your choice. Fill each ice cube mold with fruit and top with lemonade. Freeze and add to water or tea for a delicious treat full of antioxidants.

Coffee Cubes

Many of us enjoy the taste of fresh coffee but a warm cup during the summer might not be what you enjoy. Instead, freeze left over coffee and add to your favorite cup of coffee for a cool summer treat that won’t dilute the taste of your next cup.

Lime & Mint for Mojitos

download (8)Instead of having to crush mojito ingredients, prepare them early in ice cube trays. Mince mint and lime and add to water in ice trays. Once firm, add to a glass and lightly mince. Add additional mojito ingredients and keep your glass fresh with flavor.


Wine Coolers

Leave the ice tray at home for this catchy idea. Simply place grapes of your choice (purple or green) in the freezer and add to your favorite wine to keep it good and cold. Use the green grapes for white wine and purple grapes for red.

Ice Koozie for Bottles

For your next party, make this neat ice koozie for liquor bottles. Cut off the top of a 2 liter bottle. Insert liquor bottle into plastic liter bottle. Add water to fill one third of the plastic bottle and add fruit, flowers or coloring of your choice. Place in freezer. Once frozen, remove and repeat the steps for the middle portion of the bottle and then finally the last third of the bottle. When it’s time for the party, remove the plastic bottle form and place on table for a pretty display of your favorites.


Don’t forget your little four-legged friends with this fun Pupsicle. Take any cake mold and fill with doggie toys and treats, then fill with water. Place in freezer until firm. Remove and place on a cake plate or doggie bowl to keep them cool, too!