Q: How will the Local Farmers be affected?
A: They will lose many of their largest customers as well as a centralized selling point for them. The Produce Wholesalers at the State Farmers market buy thousands of tons of produce each year from our local Farmers. Fruit stands, restaurants, grocery stores and others all come to the Farmer’s Market now to buy because all of the farmers and all of the buyers are in one place. If you dilute the sellers there, you will dilute the buyers and they won’t have a reason to visit this market. They’ll likely go to the Columbia market instead where they can get all of what they need in one place. Thus supporting SC farmers instead of our own.
Q: How much do Produce Wholesalers on the market buy from local NC Farmers?
A: An estimated $15,000,000 annually is purchased from NC Farmers.
Q: Who are the vendors currently on the market that will be phased out with the Master Plan?
A: Jones Produce, Ward’s Triad Produce, Danan Produce, R&H Produce, The Inner Faith Food Shuttle, Food Runners (The group that provides Meals on Wheels), Ford’s Produce, Ford’s Gourmet Foods, Unlimited Produce, Alvarado and Sons, Dennis Ennis Produce, Country Boy Produce, Layton’s Produce & L&M Produce.
Q: Does Dix Park need the additional acreage from the State Farmer’s Market to be a successful park?
A: No. Dix Park already has more acreage per citizen than Central Park. (NYC 10,146 residents to each acre vs Raleigh 1,539 residents per acre). This is enough room for 16 times the population of Raleigh to stand in the park at one time. The additional 20 acres the City is taking from the NC Government is unnecessary for the park to be a success.
Q: Is the City of Raleigh trying to relocate the Farmer’s Market, remove it, or fundamentally change it?
A: The plan is to transform it from the successful, profitable and enjoyable State Farmer’s Market that supports the Farmer and we’ve all come to love, to a boutique market with little to no Produce Wholesalers which has proved to be an unsuccessful recipe at the other Farmer’s Markets in NC.
In the words of former Farmer’s Market Manager Ronnie Best, (who is the past President of the National Association of Produce Market Managers and still serves on the association board), “All of a sudden that land became more valuable and everything attached to it. The developers are licking their chops on everything around that park. The thing about the market, is it’s completely self-supporting. The market has a $1.4 million budget, and wholesalers pay a little more than half that with leases. It’s sad,” Best said. “And I think what they want to make is a frou-frou market.”
Q: What is “Value Capture” and how does it apply to Dorothea Dix Park and the State Farmer’s Market Master Plan?
A: One of the proposed ways to pay for the improvements of Dorothea Dix Park and the State Farmer’s Market is through “Value Capture.” In layman’s terms, if a property is nearby the State Farmer’s Market or Dorothea Dix Park, it’s value will increase due to its proximity. Therefore, the city (Raleigh) will be able to charge higher taxes for those in the area because of their perceived benefits.
Q: It’s been stated that the reason for removing the Produce Wholesalers from the Master Plan of the State Farmer’s Market is because their buildings are old and beyond their useful life. Is this true?
A: The buildings have many more years of life. They were built using concrete and steel and only 27 years old. Every Produce Wholesalers has an excellent or better food safety rating (which wouldn’t be possible in a decrepit building). Many State buildings are much older and still in service, including the Governor’s Mansion that was built in 1891, and the former State Farmer’s Market on Hodges Street built in 1956 that the NC Prison System still uses as a warehouse facility.
The building review by HH Architecture on behalf of the Dix Group, describes the general
condition of the Produce Wholesalers buildings as “good’ but needing some attention as in repainting and caulking. This is normally considered as expected, normal maintenance. These are the same buildings that are good enough to be re-purposed in the Dix Plan.
Q: What is the Farmer’s Market going to become instead of a Market for Our Local Farmers?
A: The Farmer’s Market master plan includes 450,000 square feet of mixed use Condos, Retail, Brewery and Restaurant Tenants.
Q: Is the Market going to close?
A: No, that is not the published plan, but the market you now know it will go away. The plan is to reduce the size of the Farmer’s Market by eliminating the Produce Wholesalers food distribution that now helps large and small farmers supply restaurants and grocery stores. Then make it more of a retail market with a few farmers and a few vendors, along with playgrounds, condos and pathways. We feel that losing the look and feel of a true Farmer’s Market will have a very negative impact on the long-term future of this market.
Q: Will the Department of Agriculture cancel your leases?
A: They say they would not and we believe them. But all they need to do is let our leases run their 3 remaining years and then not renew.
Q: Does this market only sell local produce?
A: No. This market receives and sells a produce from all over the world on a daily basis. With the large volume being sold daily, it is easy for the Produce Wholesalers to use local produce when available to meet orders. In fact, approximately $15,000,000 worth of local produce was sold by our Produce Wholesalers last year, among the over 3,151.732 packages of produce sold thru this market in 2018.
This market had its humble roots in the Blake Street market downtown in the 1940’s. It moved to Hodges Street around 1952 and to this market in 1992. It has taken decades to develop this market to this level and it is successful only because it is actually needed. It will not be easily replaced.
Q: Why don’t the Produce Wholesalers and truckers just move to another area close by?
A: The current market is situated only about 2.5 miles from downtown Raleigh, near our quickly expanding population and the actively growing, world class restaurant scene located there.
Other major metropolitan areas have embraced their Produce Wholesalers Farmers Markets, keeping them close in and near where the buyers are located. New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles as well as other cities, have kept their markets located in the core of the City in which they operate. They know it is critically important to keep a major food hub close by. When the markets in Washington and Baltimore were closed and one market was built between the two in Jessup Maryland, that market has not attracted as many buyers that they had planned as buyers will not drive out to the new market. The Maryland Commissioner recently visited our market hoping to learn what would help the Jessup market.
If the Produce Wholesalers are forced to move to another area, it will take about 70 acres. That many affordable acres will be many miles from Raleigh, maybe in another county. Cost to local business will increase substantially and service levels will have to decrease. Also, this will cause our local farmers to deliver to two markets instead of one, and dilute the buyers for our local farmers, thus hurting their business.
We already have a successful farmers market that is being coped by other states. Why would we break it up and let it go away?
Q: How about the development of Spring Hill?
A: Spring Hill is a plot of land of about 130 acres next to Centennial Boulevard on the Dix Park side. We know the State has been trying to attract a major company to develop Spring Hill. Is the sacrifice of the Produce Wholesalers, the Food Shuttle and the conversion of the Produce Wholesalers portion of the market into restaurants, condos and a hotel an effort to help market Spring Hill to a company like Apple?
We don’t know but we hope not.