“The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.”
At The Corner, we’re surrounded by optimists. Dedicated farmers, bakers, volunteers, chefs, customers. Community partners, donors and neighboring businesses. The pandemic has not been fun. It has changed our market and all of us in far-reaching and yet unknown ways. And it is far from over. But we are proud of the ways our community has risen to the challenges of the last ten months and we will continue to make improvements to meet the new normal.
Looking back on 2020:
We never forgot that we were essential. When COVID hit, some farmers markets nationwide simply closed, or did not open for the 2020 season. But we know our market is an essential source of revenue for our vendors and an important food source for our community. We worked with NC state rep Pricey Harrison to make sure farmers markets were specified as essential businesses in NC and would be allowed to remain open in the highest level of lockdown. With her help and the support of an incredibly dedicated community, we never missed a Saturday market.
We added a virtual market. In March, we developed and staffed a (still thriving) Corner Market Pick-Up drive-through so customers could order ahead for contactless pick-up. We felt that, because of the potential risk involved, we should pay people that volunteered to help and grants from Fund for Democratic Communities, United Way Virus Relief Fund, Guilford CARES, and NC Ag Department emergency aid have allowed us to do that. Within weeks, our drive through was filling 300 orders a day. More than an order a minute. Neil Reitzel, the owner of Sticks and Stones and Fishbones, has generously allowed us to use his parking areas to pop up our market and drive through as it expanded, and when we outgrew the Fishbones lot, our friends at the Moravian Ch urch welcomed us to use their space. Over time, we’ve upgraded our online ordering system to create a full virtual marketplace, allowing our customers to shop from many vendors in one simple transaction.
We’ve expanded our SNAP-doubling program three-fold. Food security is at the forefront of what we do. By doubling SNAP benefits we feed people and support our local food system with every transaction. The average customer using SNAP (aka “food stamps”) spends $28 per week at our market. Doubling that amount makes a big impact on a family’s food quantity and quality. In addition to doubling up to $50/week at both of our markets, our customers can use SNAP to pre-order and receive the same doubling benefit when they retrieve their order from the Corner Pick Up. In January, when our Green for Greens program was selected by the UNCG Department of Communication Studies for a two-year Cultivating Resilient Communities partnership, we had no idea how critical that program would become in 2020. Our faculty advisor (and Lindley Park neighbor) Dr. Marianne LeGrecco has become a vital part of our team as we navigate the new normal at our markets.
We welcome our neighbors in need. Some of our current customers qualified for SNAP support for the first time this year. Through the Green for Greens fund, we doubled every dollar they spent at the market. Families who rely on free and reduced lunch to help feed their kids received a P-EBT stipend and we doubled those dollars as well. Because we talk about and raise funds constantly for our SNAP doubling program, our community members know it’s there for them if they need it. In addition to grant funding from the United Way, the NC Heart Association and the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, many of our neighbors gave generously to the Green for Greens fund this year. We were able to leverage generous donations from the Brauneis family, dogsinapile, Elam Gardens and anonymous donors to create matching challenges. With your help, we were able to double a total of more than 700 weekly food budgets this year.
Our partners helped us stay safe. When PPE was near impossible to get, neighbor Winston MacGregor connected us with Textile Field, a local manufacturer who shifted operations to make masks for non-profits – donating hundreds to our market vendors and customers. Piedmont Triad Regional Council donated masks. Reconsidered Goods made and delivered face shields and Hudson’s Hill made us masks. Eliana’s Garden made sanitizer as we all scrambled to source it. Vendors donated to purchase new tents to shelter both the Corner-Pick up and new vendors who came to us without their own canopies.
Our vending community showed its resilience. In March we quickly masked up and limited our vendor spaces to food and essentials (like soap and masks) only. Although we’ve sadly had to cut out most of the space we allocated for artists, many of them like Melanie, Kelly, Brittney and Ray have stayed on as paid volunteers. We added fantastic vendors like Govinda’s Garden, Derber Greens, Zaytoon, 4Real Juice, Farmhouse BBQ, Goat Lady Dairy and Pepperfish. Abuela’s Mascarillas brings beautifully embroidered masks each week. Kathryn of Red Dragon Delights created a thriving artisan ice cream business. We had to eliminate our kids craft table and Find the Chicken prize but Bev has created “take and make bags” for the kids and her husband David delivered water by the case for the vendors all summer.
We’ve gained new customers. Faucette Farms went from an average spring CSA membership level of 150 families to 400 this April. When grocery chains couldn’t keep meats stocked and big packing plants closed with COVID clusters, our small farms like Coltrane, New Pasture, KW Homestead, and Eliana’s Garden pulled through to provide meat safely and increased their customer base significantly.
We helped open the People’s Market. Our seasonal sister market in Glenwood was apprehensive about opening for the spring season. Their staff was all-volunteer with many older folks in the mix. The Black Lives Matter protests and curfews were happening. By powering through the early days of the pandemic at The Corner, we could share our PPE resources and new vendor contacts to support a safe opening in a community that embraced the market’s food and fellowship this year more than ever before. And they provided a critical vending outlet for community members who needed more of a “side-hustle” to supplement their income (or in many cases lack of income due to layoffs and closures). As it turned out, The People’s Market had its most successful season ever.
We stayed connected. This year has been scary and uncertain. Most of us have felt isolated. Shopping for food at a farmers market is unique in that it’s not a 24/7 option. It’s a commitment. We are all gonna meet at The Corner during a 3-hour window, every Saturday, every week. Having that place – where Chad already knows our weekly bagel order, or we can sneak a peek at Emma and Jason’s twins, or see how much the neighbor’s pandemic puppy has grown – well, that just might be the thing that gets us through another week.
We aren’t bragging, but we are really proud. Being connected to this vibrant, caring and generous community is good for all of us.
This all started long before 2020 and we’ll keep on meeting you at The Corner long after.
Thank you all for the so-very-many ways you make us what we are,
The Fruitickler is on the move and we feel like we’re tracking Santa Claus!
The Fruitickler is in Florida and headed south to the groves for citrus and avocado. Always going the extra mile to bring us the freshest fruit, straight from the source, Aamal and Vincent checked in last night from Central Florida, en route to the southern groves. She has her contacts picking Sunburst tangerines, Orlando tangelos and Choquette avocados (which are enormous buttery avocados that you absolutely do not want to miss out on). We don’t have photos yet as they are still traveling but stay tuned and shop early on Saturday to get you some.
Give a season of organic produce!
Faucette Farms’ Community Supported Agriculture
This holiday, treat yourself or a friend to the gift of fresh organic food this winter. As a member of the CSA program, you pay upfront for a season of produce, and Faucette in turn supplies you with 12 weeks of seasonal vegetables and fruit, honey, preserves, dry goods, and meats from our farm. CSA members get exclusive choice to limited supply harvests that are not available to the general public. What’s unique about this CSA is YOU pick. Because of the size of the farm and scope of offerings, Faucette lets you choose what your family gets each week. CSAs run for 12 weeks and start at just $144. They can be ordered online weekly for Corner Pick Up or you can fill your own basket at the market on Saturdays. Click here for more info and to sign up, or stop by the stand this Saturday!
Meet us at The Corner, for safe shopping full of holiday cheer
Some great gift ideas, right at The Corner…
- Top of the list is FOOD! Like: a “dinner to go” basket from GG’s sauces, a bushel of apples from Fruitickler, a loaf of Gingerbread or Stollen from FAB, lemon curd from Elam Gardens, a box of honey caramel from Derber Greens, Congolese hot sauce from Mboka ya Loboko coffee and an AeroPress from Fireweed Coffee, bean-to-bar chocolate from Joyland Provisions, loose tea with a tea ball from Candy’s tea, Coquito, a Puerto Rican style no-egg eggnog (available online) from Atabey
- a healing basket from Eliana’s Garden Canna or Kindred Soul Botanicals
- a spa in a box from Donna’s Delights
- an “into the forest” wreath from Shady Acres
- glass outdoor flowers from Repurposed Garden
- a handwoven towel from Derber Greens
- a CSA subscription from Faucette Farms
- a wellness box from 4Real Juice
- embroidered items – including masks! from Abuela’s Mascarillas
- treats for your best doggie or dog lover from dogsinapile (and hand-printed holiday cards too!)
and the list goes on!
The market goodness is overflowing. In order to accommodate as many vendors as possible on-site, we’ll be hosting several vendors along the Elam side of the market. Right in front of the Faucette Farms truck, you’ll find more market goodness. Even MORE vendors can be found on our WhatsGood site – so whether you’re looking for brisket or fresh flan, chocolate or chard, definitely make use of the pre-order service even if you are also visiting the market. It’s a great way to ensure you get your favorite bagels or bushel of apples, even if you oversleep Saturday morning. The Corner Pick up is located at First Moravian Church at 304 S Elam and open during market hours 8-11 am. USe the code DEC35 for 35% off this week only!
Corner Kids Make a Difference
WhaylenVan Etten, Abbot Vantreese and Otis Flanary set up camp around The Corner tree last Saturday to raise donations for our Green for Greens fund. With items donated from Green City Goods, the boys raised more than $100 last week!
Cooper’s Christmas Balls have been a big success this year! He has built more than 500 balls and raised $1000 for the Greensboro Urban Ministry! If you have not purchased lighted Christmas balls this year and you would still like to, you can still order them via our virtual market this week. Be sure to use the code DEC35 to get 35% off all orders up to $100!
Even if you are shopping on-site at the market, this deal is too good to pass up! For new and returning customers, this week only get 35% off your order, up to $100. Shop here and use the code DEC35. Place your order by midnight Thursday evening and pick up during market hours, 8-11, at First Moravian Church.
So that’s 35% off things like flan and Coquito from Atabey, fresh fruits from Fruitickler, veggies from Govindas and Pepperfish, microgreens from Fuller Family Farm, charcuterie items from Derber Greens, ornaments from Made by Melz, dog treats from dogsinapile, sauces, dressings and gift baskets from GG’s, prepared foods from Mom and Daughter, meats and more from Eliana’s Garden, bean to bar chocolate from Joyland Provisions and so much more!