Tuesday, 28 May 2019 19:02

Richmond County Farmers' Market kicks off in hot weather

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Josh Blake, of T and K Farms in Exway, stands behind a row of tomatoes Tuesday afternoon at the Richmond County Farmers' Market. Josh Blake, of T and K Farms in Exway, stands behind a row of tomatoes Tuesday afternoon at the Richmond County Farmers' Market. Matt Harrelson - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Even though temperatures rose to the upper 90s on Tuesday, that didn't deter vendors from heading out to the parking lot of the Richmond County Health Department to sell their wares and produce.

Valeria and Richard Lunceford, the owners of Pa-Pa and Meme Baking and Crafts were looking for something to fill their time after retirement. With Valeria's expertise in crafts and Richard's skills in the kitchen, their new business was born.

In the baked goods department, they offer strawberry, blackberry, pina colada and pineapple cakes, brownies, lemon bars, chocolate bars and magic bars — but Valeria said those will change each week at the market. She makes dish towels, crochet dish cloths, aprons and adult bibs, with the towels and cloths taking an hour each to make and aprons taking two.

This is the couple's second year venturing into the Farmers' Market in Rockingham.

"I do craft shows, and he likes to bake so we decided we'd do the Farmers' Market, too, so he can bake," said Valeria. "Business has been pretty good today — even though the news hasn't gotten out yet about us being open, so people aren't coming from the county as much. But it's been a lot of employees today. It might be because it's so hot."

In the next booth over, Josh Blake of T and K Farm in Exway was representing the produce section of Tuesday's market with potatoes, tomatoes, peaches, cucumbers, zucchini, squash and cabbage.

"I've been in the farming business for roughly 20 years, on and off," said Blake. "Both of my grandfathers were farmers, and I just kind of picked it up from them. I do it more as a hobby. I have a full-time regular job, too."

Blake went on to say that as the year progresses, vegetables such as beans and corn will come into season. But growing tomatoes and corn are his specialty.

"That's two of the things I like to grow," he said. "The peaches have started to die out. We've already lost the strawberries this year. They just play out this time of year. They're usually an early spring crop."

Sandra's Pillows, owned by Sandra Sweatt, made up the trifecta of vendors Tuesday, and she's been making pillows for two years.

"I make them because I love to make them," Sweatt said. "My friend Valeria Lunceford, I help her with 4-H every year at sewing, and she said I did pretty good with my pillows, and said I should make some and sell them, so I started making them."

According to Sweatt, each pillow takes about 30 minutes to make, and costs range from $10 for the bigger ones and $5 for smaller pillows.

This past Saturday was her first Farmers' Market, and Sweatt said she sold quite a few that day.

Sweatt also makes flying saucer pillows, which look exactly what they sound like and something new called a tote pillow. 

"When my husband was in service in the military, I saw a lot of little kids hanging on with their mamas in the airport, and that's a lot of strain. I know that," said Sweatt. "So I figured why not let them take their own pillow and let them feel important. So, I made that. These I make by hand. I can't sew them on the sewing machine because they're to thick."

She also said that people will occasionally call her to say how much the pillows have helped with neck and back pain.

What Sweatt had presented at the Farmers' Market isn't necessarily all there is to be offered through her business, however, as she's been known to take requests.

"Over the phone, it's kind of hard because sometimes I can't get the same material that I want. When I sell out, there's no promise I can get this material, but I'll do my best to get it," she said. "I've got material in Albemarle and Fayetteville and Southern Pines. I do it out of love because I love doing it."

The Rockingham Farmers' Market will run through the summer from 8 a.m to noon on Saturdays on Harrington Square downtown and from 3 to 6 p.m. every Tuesday outside of the Richmond County Health Department and Department of Social Services.

Sandra Sweatt sells a variety of patterned pillows at the Farmers' Market.

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