For the month of April BRWIA spoke with Tori Cox, market manager at the
Watauga County Farmers' Market.
Tori has been managing the market since 2012 and has enjoyed watching it continue to grow and mature into the harmonious
community resource it has become today.
Opening day is May 3rd, 2014 from 8am to noon, so don't miss out on the opportunity to come out and meet your local farmers, get fresh, delicious produce, and partake in various other scheduled activities! This year marks the market's 40th anniversary so there will be plenty in store.
My professional background is actually not in agriculture, I have a degree in mathematics and economics and I’ve been a math teacher. My interest in the local food system was simply a passion that began when I moved here to Boone and started frequenting the farmers market. I didn’t know anyone when I moved here so going to the market was my favorite thing to do on Saturday mornings, it was a great way to feel like I was a part of the community and it got me excited about food in a way I hadn’t previously experienced. I’ve always had an interest in environmental and sustainability issues but I think going to the farmers market put those concepts into perspective for me in a smaller scale. It helped me think about things like consumption and food, and how our actions at a local scale can impact those larger issues.
What do you see as some of the issues in Agriculture?
I think in Watauga County we have issues with land access and pricing, especially for beginning farmers. The land is largely being used for things like resorts or second homes so it’s difficult for new or seasoned farmers to find land and be able to afford to farm in this region.
My first season at the market was in 2012, so this is my third year. I was fortunate to inherit a market that was already well-established. Our challenges are really only that we don’t have much physical space to grow and expand. We are always thinking of ways to make the market better at the size it’s currently at, things like what we offer to our guests and making sure that there is plenty of diversity.
Why do you think women are such a fast growing demographic of small family farmers?
Women, I think, have an especially strong connection to the land. We are the nurturers so it’s easy for us to connect with caring for the land in a very powerful way. Growing food is definitely a part of caring for the community and I believe that women can identify with that aspect.
I love Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture! I’ve attended several workshops and seminars and they have been really fantastic to work with. Their organization of educational activities and demos are so important to the community and the farm tour is an incredible way to get people connected to community farms! People are beginning to have a yearning to know their food and their farmers and the farm tour offers a way to move beyond the market or the CSAs that people are already involved in and see with their own eyes where the food they eat is coming from and what goes into making it. It’s taking the local food system to the next level, that’s why I believe BRWIA is an invaluable resource to the high country.