As the old saying goes, “a good seed makes for a good crop,” and that has shown to be true at the Norman Farm Market which opened its first season at The Well on April 2.
Cleveland County’s Wellness Square, known as The Well, is a unique collaboration between Cleveland County and the Cleveland County Health Department. The Well offers free and low-cost classes in all areas related to wellness from physical fitness to nutrition, heart health, diabetes prevention, financial health and mental health.
The farm market fits nicely in that niche with offerings of fresh, locally grown produce.
“Being at the Well is a game changer for the Norman Farm Market,” Farm Market Manager Kate Cooper said. “We are able to really embrace our mission here and provide the easiest route for vendors to sell their items. We provide tables and tents at a low cost and provide many opportunities for vendor training and advancement.”
Cooper said it’s important to understand what produce is available seasonally when shopping at the market and to think of ways to plan around those items.
“In April, you’ll see carrots and greens and strawberries,” she said. “When we enter the summer months, you start seeing cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and summer squash. Come fall we get watermelon, pumpkins and all of the varieties of winter squash.”
Cooper works with farmers who are just getting started as well as teaching other farm market managers across the state. Many of her Norman Farm Market vendors are looking to expand their greenhouse operations to grow more produce year-round now that they have a place to sell those veggies.
“Because of our new climate-controlled facility, we will pilot a winter market this year which will run on the second and third Saturday of the off-season months,” she said. “Of course, our regular market will run from April through October on Tuesdays from 4-7 and on Saturdays from 8-12.”
So far, the turnout at the Norman Farm Market at The Well has set new records for attendance and sales, a trend Cooper expects to continue as people seem to love the upbeat vibe of the new facility.
“We have a great facility and an ideal location for consumers because of its walkability and climate-controlled conditions,” she said. “We’re bringing in bike racks to encourage people to ride to the market if they live nearby and we want to promote an all-around healthy lifestyle consistent with the mission of The Well.”
From local musicians to free classes on gardens, raising chickens, and more, The Well and the Norman Farm Market are bringing opportunities for learning and community.
“We’re a wellness hub and a hub for local vendors with food and crafts and too many unique products to mention,” she said. “You can buy plants to put in your own garden and then pick up some dog treats, gourmet coffee or find some handmade earrings as a gift.”
The farm market is also host to products created by Loveworks’ innovative youth with different offerings sold monthly.