1. The market is held outdoors, rain or shine, so come dressed accordingly.
2. The market is busiest between 8 and 10 am. Come early for best quality and selection. Growers often bring just a few pounds of this or that and the most in-demand produce goes first. Keep in mind, however, that vendors can not sell to customers until the market bell rings at 8am. Please give farmers time to set up their stands if you arrive early.
3. Come with a flexible shopping list. Plan your menus once you get to the market and see what farmers have brought to market that day.
4. Most vendors accept debit and credit cards, but please carry small bills so making change will be easy for vendors in the event you pay in cash.
5. Chat with farmers. Ask questions about how produce is grown and how to cook it. Buy something you haven't tried before.  A grower can tell you how to select and prepare produce you are curious about.
6. Sturdy shopping bags or baskets will help you carry purchases to your car.
7. Plan to go straight home after shopping at the market so you can put away your purchases. Fresh produce, plants or flowers should not be left to swelter and wilt in your car. If you can't go home right away, bring a cooler in which to stow your purchases.
8. Bring your children with you. They will learn where their food comes from and how it looks when freshly harvested. Farmers are happy to answer questions about how vegetables and fruits grow and to give out samples to taste.
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    The Matthews Community Farmers' Market has come a long way from its inception in 1991.  During the previous decade Matthews had undergone enormous change and was no longer a small centralized farming community. Increasing population and commercial development had a fragmenting effect and had displaced much of the local agricultural community. Our founders had a very specific mission in mind. They wanted to create a space which would not only support local farms as a viable part of the community, but would also bring back a sense of community to Matthews. The farmers market has helped the downtown area to, once again, be the functioning heart of Matthews by providing for the basic human need for sustenance. . 
    Those who helped get the market started include Renfrow Hardware, Seeds of Hope Project, the Matthews Town Council, the Matthews Chamber of Commerce, a small Christian church and a few community farmers. The market was born in the green space beside Renfrow Hardware with a few local farmers selling their produce. Growth was slow, but gradually more vendors and customers were attracted to the fledgling market.
    In 1996, a partnership was formed between the market and the Matthews Chamber of Commerce that helped the market grow to the point where it could prosper on its own.
    In 1999, Matthews Community Farmers Market, Inc. was founded as an independent non-profit corporation to run the market. It is composed of farmer members and governed by a board of directors elected from the market's active membership. The board assures the market remains true to its original mission and decides how the market should evolve to meet the needs of the vendors as well as the community it serves. The market manager/executive director supports the board in running day-to-day operations.
    In 2007, a successful winter market was added, making the market a year-round operation, opening every Saturday morning except for the weekend after Thanksgiving. 
    In 2013 and 2014, the farmers' market site underwent a complete renovation. The Town of Matthews invested thousands of dollars to construct new front and rear entryways to the market. No sooner had that work been completed than a heavy snow collapsed many market tents. A tremendous outpouring of donations from market customers, chefs and other market supporters raised enough money to remake and upgrade the market site, tents and facilities. 
    In 2016 we celebrated our 25th anniversary by mounting a huge fundraising campaign that raised money to construct a new chef demo patio, water and drainage projects and adding a tailgate area in our parking lot on Cotton Gin Alley.  
    Each year, the market continues to grow and currently boasts over 50 vendors.  Now in its second year, the tailgate area is progressing well and features a food truck and our seasonal fruit fundraiser. 
Most of our regular customers are savvy consumers and do not come to the Matthews Community Farmers’ Market looking for bargains. They know that good food is not cheap.  Here’s what you get for your money at the Matthews Community Farmers’ Market:
Food That's Grown By Hand - Growing food on small farms is labor intensive, especially when the farmer uses natural or organic growing practices. Weeds are pulled by hand. Harvesting is done by hand. When people object to, say, the cost of green beans, our farmers explain just what kind of time and labor it takes to hand-pick each bean that goes into that pound bag. None of our farmers us mechanized harvesting equipment.
 High Quality, Excellent Value - Food at the Matthews Community Farmers’ Market is sold at its freshest and at the peak of ripeness, when flavor and nutrition are highest. It is harvested within hours of your purchase.  Supermarket produce, often is picked green to prevent damage during long-distance transit, and can take weeks to get to your plate.  There is no comparison. The food you find at this farmers market is some of the freshest and best available. The flavor of the food speaks for itself, whether it’s the produce, free-range chicken eggs, or pasture-raised meats.  Ever wondered why is there such a run on free-range chicken eggs at every market even though they are $5 or $6 a dozen? If you think that’s an outrageous price, then you need to taste one. Once you do you’ll never want to buy supermarket eggs again.
More Varieties Of Produce Grown For Their Taste - Not How Well They Ship -Many of the produce varieties that our farmers grow are selected for flavor, not ease of growing or yield. They are more expensive to grow, but worth it. That’s why you’ll find dozens of kinds of lettuce, myriad types of radishes, scores of different tomato varieties, multiple kinds of eggplant, peppers and and beans, to name a few – all picked for their taste. You’ll quickly find your favorites in every season and may discover foods you never knew existed.
Supporting Local Farms And Farm Families Our farmers’ market is important because it allows farmers to charge retail prices so they can make a decent income from what they grow. As it is, many of our farmers work another job so they will have enough income to support themselves and their families.  Farmers charge what they believe is a fair price, factoring in what it cost in time and labor to plant, nurture and harvest foods, as well as flavor, quality, sustainability and nutrition. Money spent on good locally grown food benefits the farm, the local economy, the consumer and the environment. When you buy from a local farmer, you help make it possible for them to be good stewards of the land. Without enough support from consumers who recognize the outstanding value in what they produce, we run the risk of losing our region’s farmers and farmland, as well as our local food security. So, get to know the local farmers producing your food. You’ll know where your food is coming from, how and where it was grown and you’ll be supporting the continuation of family farms in the process. 
Market Information 
Is all produce at the Matthews Community Farmers' Market organically grown?
No. Our growers range from those who have gone through the USDA organic certification process and can legally call their farms and produce "organic", to those growers who offer "naturally grown"*produce and are not federally certified, to still other growers who use conventional growing methods that include the sparing use of pesticides and/or chemical fertilizers. The market leaves it to each grower to explain his or her growing practices to customers. Feel free to ask farmers how they grow their crops. It's one of the many advantages of buying produce at a growers-only farmers market where you buy directly from the local farmers who grew your food.
* The US Department of Agriculture enacted standards applying to the use of the word "organic" in produce and other products. This means many of our growers who have always grown organically can not legally call their produce or farms organic unless federally certified as such. Getting USDA certified as organic is a lengthy and expensive process that has been prohibitive for many of the small farmers and backyard growers who sell at our market.

Why can't I find all fruits and vegetables at the same time at the farmers' market? 
We are a "grower-only" market where all crops are grown within 50 miles of Matthews. Crops are grown and harvested in their appropriate seasons.. For instance, spinach is a cool weather crop that our farmers harvest in the spring, fall and winter. You won't find it at the market in the heat of the summer. You will, however, find hot weather crops like corn and watermelon. Our commitment to locally grown produce ensures you are buying the freshest, best looking, best tasting, wholesome and nutritious produce directly from the farmer who grew it and who harvested it just a few hours before your purchase. 

How do I get a booth at the market to be a vendor?
The market has specific rules governing who can sell and what can be sold, as well as an application process.
We have a strict application process that occurs once each year, as applications are only accepted between November 1 and the following January 15. The board will review the application and carry out an inspection before a final decision is made.  No waiting list is maintained nor are applications kept on file. Click on the "New Vendor Applications" page to download a copy of the farmers' market rules, fee information and application form.

What do donations and fundraisers help pay for at the market?
We are, of course, always grateful for the continued support of those individuals and businesses that donate to the market.   We carefully spend the funds we have to keep the market running well and growing wisely.  We try to keep our fundraising efforts to a minimum, as we know our customers already give so much.  Our aim each year is to move closer to self-reliance through vendor fees and Community House sales (beverages and market merchandise), so in turn we can become less reliant on our peach and apple fundraisers.  Budgeting with these funds can be difficult, because they depend on crop yield, which are determined by unpredictable weather patterns and inherent growing challenges.

Do we allow third parties to solicit/sell/promote in the farmers' market? 
No.  Because we have been inundated with requests from third parties to promote their business or cause, we have had to implement a blanket policy that restricts promotions to only those pertaining to the market and its vendors.  If you wish to become a vendor, please refer to the third paragraph above.  
Frequently Asked Questions
If you're a regular customer, you've become accustomed to seeing many of the area's top chefs at the farmers' market. You've enjoyed their cooking demonstrations, you've marveled at their techniques and recipe ideas. But did you realize that they volunteer their time and talent for free, making a huge impact on the farmers' market and farmers?  
Sometimes they are dressed in their chef whites, but sometimes not. The average shopper may not recognize them when they shop the market, but chefs are a catalyst for the market's success and in educating the public about the importance of local foods and supporting local farms.
"The chefs who shop at our market and buy from local farmers have been a principal force in driving the local foods movement," says grower Sam Koenigsberg of New Town Farms. "They have made the market what it is today and have helped the market continue to grow. They have that platform - through a plate of good food - to educate people. That plate of local food is the window back to the farm. Chefs have an enormous role in advancing the market and making more local food available for you, the consumer."  
Sam says market customers who watch chefs pick up boxes of produce for their restaurants or take produce to use in their cooking demos shouldn't be concerned that chefs are skimming the cream off the top of his harvest.
"Chefs order on Friday and we pick their orders separately, over and above what we pick to sell at market, and it doesn't affect the quantity of food we bring for our booth," he says, adding that when he has small amounts of an in-demand product, he saves it for customers waiting in line at his booth for the market to open. "It's the worm for the early birds.  People should appreciate what chefs are doing in supporting local farmers and using local produce in their restaurants," he says. 
...that the farmers’ market has such a wonderful location through the generosity of downtown property owner David Blackley of Renfrow Hardware and the late Frank Renfrow. They have provided the market free use of the site since it’s inception 27 years ago. When more parking became a necessity for our ever-growing market, the pair made the grassy lot across Cotton Gin Alley available for our customers to use. Without that generosity of both men in so many ways, we doubt the market would have grown and thrived as successfully as it has.

…that the Community House building is more than 100 years old and was once an open structure under which cotton farmers used to congregate while their cotton was being ginned? There used to be a cotton gin on the grassy lot the market now uses for parking (hence the street name Cotton Gin Alley). Eventually the open structure was closed in and used to house a cotton gin worker and his family.  For several years it was rented by various businesses, until the farmers' market started using it to feature market information and sell market merchandise and cold beverages..

.... that the musicians who play so beautifully volunteer their time and talents? We are so grateful for the enjoyment their music brings.
Our Story
Community Outreach
Our mission to be a "community" market means we are always seeking ways to be more inclusive, in order to bring our local community together. One way has been our participation in the "Share The Harvest" food pantry, in partnership with the Matthews Help Center located on N. Ames St.  Each Saturday, we challenge our vendors and customers to donate fresh produce by placing it in the coolers in front of the community house.  At the end of the market, these donations are taken to the Help Center for distribution to members of our community who do not have the means to purchase these items.  We also accept monetary donations for the Help Center inside the community house. 
Your Food Dollar Well Spent
Chefs' Profound Impact On Local Farmers & Our Farmers' Market 
Did You Know...?
Shopping Tips
We're excited to announce that our patio garden has become a part of the Butterfly Highway, a statewide conservation initiative that aims to restore native pollinator habitats to areas impacted by urbanization. Check out this article to find out how you can become a part of the Butterfly Highway.
Butterfly Highway