Playing the Market
For generations of locals, the bounty of summer awaits
at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market
By Maria Johnson • Photographs by Amy Freeman
Dollar bills? Check.
More dollar bills because you know how you are? Check.
Reusable shopping bag? Check.
A hankering for the happy din of early-morning chatter? Check.
You’re at the right place: the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market.
It doesn’t get any more real than this.
The genealogy of this gathering goes way back, to 1874. Over the years, the market, the city’s oldest, has moved and grown and adapted, as all living things must.
It nests, for now, in a former National Guard armory at the corner of Yanceyville and East Lindsay streets, just across from the old War
Once home to tanks and artillery, the concrete-block building with a Quonset-hut profile, now functions as a citadel of congeniality, where people flow in from all walks of life every single Saturday morning of the year.
Whether you’re packing cash, a platinum credit card, or a debit card for food stamps, you circulate slowly over concrete floors lined with long wood tables and vendors fishing for your eye. “Can I help you?”
A hundred sellers from a hundred miles around Greensboro populate their stalls with just about everything that people can grow, gather and fashion by hand.
Fresh brown eggs.
Gooey amber honey.
Fuzzy, blushing peaches.
Vibrant, veiny greens.
Ruddy, obese tomatoes.
Sweet corn with sticky tassels.
Coffee so strong the aroma opens your eyes before the first sip.
Warm sweet potato doughnuts, the best outcome a root vegetable can hope for.
Sour cream pound cake. Ooooh. With a smidge of lemon.
Hummus and baba ghanouj, earthy with tahini.
Lavender soap that smells like you want to.
Beef and pork and fish over white melting ice.
Perky posies, beeswax candles, wooden toys, handmade jewelry.
And the berries. Oh Lord, the berries, all plump and sweet and just graduated from the vine.
Shut up, fancy grocery stores.
You want bluetooth access? Ha! You want bluetooth access? The Farmer’s Market can top that. How about blue teeth, plural. Check out Blueberry Pancake Day on July 15. Get there early so you can smile, all purple-mouthed and pretty, at folks who won’t judge you for your syrupy ways.
We can be ourselves here.
Bus riders and Benz drivers. Yoga pants and sarongs, jeans and hijabs, button-downs and tees. Old school, new school, no school.
We go to the old armory in the heart of the city, when the dew is on the clover, and we are fortified. OH