By Jeff Flitter, 2013
Throughout my life, I have experienced many farmer’s markets. I have visited farmer’s markets so large that they have permanent fixtures or sections and markets so small that trucks drive up and set up tables. However, I have never seen a farmer’s market that was indoors before. When I arrived in the Lenoir Farmer’s Market, I met Jeff Crane and felt the need to ask him all about his life and the indoor farmer’s market he manages.
Jeff Crane is the co-market manager of the Lenoir Downtown Farmer’s Market and herb farmer. The farmer’s market is an indoor farmer’s market in Lenoir, NC specializing in local produce, crafts, and meats. Everything in the market is from the local community. They offer produce, herbs, paintings, word working, alpaca goods, and various other local products. All the products in the store are from about 20 to 30 miles away. The coffee is from local roasters, which means that the beans are not grown local, but they are roasted locally.
An indoor farmer’s market is not the typical choice, which makes the store stand out from others. “We could offer more stuff with an indoor market than outside,” Crane says. “It gives the farmers a few more days to sell.” Crane hopes to continue growing their stock, the number of farmers and artisans they partner with, and educational programming. Currently, Crane does educational events on herbs and where food comes from at elementary schools.
“North Carolina has a lot to offer,” says Crane. “People are getting more away from the interstate and into downtown.” He explains that more businesses are returning to the downtown areas and how more towns are trying to bring that small downtown feeling back. In regards to introducing the farmer’s market into Lenoir, he says “it all adds to downtown.” Crane describes how Lenoir has been revitalizing downtown for the last four years, but states that it is still behind Hickory in revitalizing. He is excited to see people get off the interstate and return to the small highways, claiming that Highway 64 “seems to be used more now.”
Crane grew up in Hickory, right down the road from Lenoir, and migrated to Lenoir later in life. Right out of high school, Crane began working in green houses and his interest in herbs grew. He began growing herbs ten years ago after talking to older farmers at farmer’s market. He began going into the woods to pick herbs and began to read more and more about them. He currently grows mushrooms, dry herbs, fresh herbs, and seventy-five different types of herbs. These herbs are sold fresh as well as in BBQ sauce and herbal teas. The farmer’s market is located at 905 West Avenue, Lenoir, NC 28645 and is closed on Sunday.