Category: Farmers Market

July 23rd, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

Residents in the Ghent neighborhood are begging for help from City Hall to do something about cars using residential streets as cut-throughs, raising the question, why wouldn’t City Hall help?

Could it be that City Hall doesn’t want to be seen as responsive when residents ask for help? That’s actually been an argument (“We don’t want to help you because then we’d have to help everyone”).

Could it be that City Hall thinks that throttling back on Ghent cut-through traffic will only push the problem elsewhere? (That actually happened recently when through-traffic was blocked and cars — temporarily — used nearby streets as a detour until they found that First Street is faster).

The real reason is something else, a mile away and an apparently unrelated issue — Farmers Market.

Farmers Market sits on a piece of prime real estate valued at $471,880, according to the county tax office. But that tax value figure belies its true value.

Located on railroad frontage and fixed between the N.C. History Center and Downtown Proper, this 1.2 acre parcel has been occupied by New Bern Farmers Market since 1984 (note: typo corrected from 1994).

The property was acquired by the Redevelopment Commission and then sold to the city for $10 in 1978. The enclosure on the property was purpose-built for the Farmers Market.

Farmers Market was originally seen by City Hall as an asset that attracted people downtown during a time when Downtown New Bern was getting back on its feet following years of decline.

The waterfront along the Trent River, once teeming with industry, had become derelict, nothing like what it is now today, and Farmers Market was one of the first improvements that helped downtown revitalization.

The city charged Farmers Market $1 a year to use the property, but when Dana Outlaw became mayor, something changed.

Outlaw, the son of a former New Bern city manager, started ridding City Hall of what he perceived as surplus properties.

He also ended city contributions to non-profits that had been helping the city in numerous ways, such as Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation, which was primarily responsible for downtown’s turnaround, and New Bern Firemen’s Museum, which was in a city-owned building and also charged $1 rent.

The city sold the Dunn Building kitty-corner from City Hall and moved offices around to other city-owned buildings, including a former elementary school on First Street between Spencer Avenue and Trent Boulevard.

City Hall owns other properties — numerous houses that it foreclosed on when cash-strapped owners were unable to afford repairs and then the demolition costs when the city bulldozed the houses, and a large parcel of wetlands between the Pembroke Community, U.S Highway 70, Carolina Avenue, and Trent Road that it is selling part of to the New Bern Housing Authority to build low-income apartments.

City success in the real estate business is hit and miss. The houses in its inventory earn nickels on the dollar when sold compared to the cost the city incurs in legal fees, demolition, and marketing.

It has been having trouble selling the old Firemen’s Museum on Hancock Street, and when a group of artists offered to rent it from the city, the city stole the idea but then failed at starting its own artist studio.

That wasn’t the first time City Hall tried to muscle in on the success of local non-profits.

Which brings us to the old Power Plant between First Street, Rhem Street, and Park Avenue.

After years of industrial use, the 3.8 acre parcel is an environmental nightmare beneath a thin layer of asphalt. No one in their right mind would ever buy such a property, given the high clean-up costs, although the county tax office values it at $339,720.

Stuck with surplus property that it could never sell, leaders at City Hall came up with an idea that they thought would kill two birds with one stone.

They would move, voluntarily or otherwise, Farmers Market from its attractive property downtown to the Power Plant property, once the city completed various improvements to accommodate Farmers Market needs.

The First Street property is a turd, but they would make it a shiny turd.

Unsurprisingly, members of the New Bern Farmers Market and downtown businesses and visitors resisted the idea. The timing was  all in the Farmers Market’s favor.

Even if City Hall evicted the Farmers Market at the end of its lease, the Farmers Market had a one-year extension option that, if it exercised the option, would have them being evicted the month before municipal elections in 2017.

The city backed down and granted another 5-year lease, but this time increased the rent to $500 a year (ed. note: corrected from per month).

Meanwhile, City Hall hunkered down. It claimed that instead of there being a farmers market-style City Market, it would partner with Craven Community College to hold courses at the newly branded VOLT Center.

But secretly, some city leaders held on to the idea of a farmers market, seeking grants and other funding using a technique called fraud. At least one grant application withheld key information, not the least of which was the implication that New Bern didn’t have a farmers market and City Market would fill that void.

Chemical contaminants and misleading grant applications aside, City Hall faced other obstacles in creating a new farmers market to put the existing one out of business.

The old electric generation plant, located between Country Club Road/First Street, Park Avenue, and Rhem Street, has access issues.

First, Country Club Road/First Street was butt ugly.

In fixing that problem (you may have guessed already, the city got someone else to foot the cost, namely N.C. Department of Transportation, aka state taxpayers), street engineers employed a concept called “Road Diet,” which is the latest thing at street engineer cocktail parties.

They took the street, a four-lane monstrosity with occasional sidewalks and plenty of eyesores, and spiffed it up, turning it into a two-lane street (with center turn lane), bike lanes, and sidewalks on both sides.

That led to another problem. N.C. DOT said it would do the work, but resisted the idea of there being an entrance to City Market off First Street. It would be too close to freeway onramps and offramps, they said.

That forced City Hall to figure out a different way for hundreds of visitors to get to their future farmers market, which left one choice: Rhem Street.

Rhem Street is one block long and located within a commercially zoned district, although there are just as many houses on Rhem Street as there are businesses.

The two main ways to get to Rhem Street are from Country Club Road, and from (drum roll) Second Street.

See what they did there?

To put New Bern Farmers Market out of business, City Hall has to keep Second Street open to commercial traffic, even though Second Street, just two and one-half blocks long, is located entirely in a residential district.

Connecting the dots, it leads directly back to the property on which New Bern Farmers Market is now located.

For some reason, forces inside City Hall want New Bern Farmers Market off the property on South Front Street really, really badly, either by moving it to another location, or by putting it out of business.

The question is, who wants that downtown Farmers Market property so badly that they have City Hall in their back pocket, fighting fiercely to get it done?

The answer is reached the old fashioned way: Follow the money.

Stay tuned for Part II.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Business, Commentary, Community, Community issues, Craven Community College, Farmers Market, Mayor

March 23rd, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

An effort by New Bern city staff to start a farmer’s market at City Market on First Street was dealt a crippling blow on Friday when a key partner announced it is backing out of the plan.

The city was going after a $200,817 grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund to beef up plans to revitalize its old Electric Utility Yard on First Street. The plan, called the Volt Center, is well underway and includes a classroom area in partnership with Craven Community College. That much has been publicly known.

What wasn’t known outside tight circles around City Hall was a revived effort to start a 32-stall farmer’s market and a market café, with work starting Nov. 1. A “soft opening” was planned for the 2019 Holiday Season, with a full opening date sometime in spring 2020.

Key to the city’s grant application was its partnership with Veterans Employment Base Camp and Organic Garden, which would provide produce and other resources for the farmer’s market.

As of Friday, that partnership came to a screeching halt.

“It appears that the City of New Bern is going in a different direction on the project, therefore on behalf of the Veterans Employment Base Camp and Organic Garden Board of Directors and staff, we would like to formally remove our organization from the project,” said Lovay Wallace Singleton, executive director.

Singleton made the announcement at a mediated meeting of involved parties held at Craven Community College on Friday.

The meeting was held at the behest of a furious Ward 1 Alderman Sabrina Bengel, who announced at a Board of Aldermen meeting earlier this month that city staff was going behind her back with the new farmer’s market project.

New Bern Farmers Market on South Front Street. Google Street View image

“I find this to be a duplication of services already offered,” Bengel said in a letter to Singleton.

“The only reason I found out about it was that I was asked to attend a meeting with farmers (only two or three showed up) to discuss this grant.  I was extremely upset about this because I had no idea this was moving forward.  As I started to get more information it opened up lots of questions as to why we were doing this.  I also learned that no one from our current Farmers market was included in these discussions nor anyone from Swiss Bear or the Catalyst Kitchen which is almost the same project as your proposed cafe.

“The discussions early on with the Farmers Market were that they were asked if they would move their operation to First Street.  When their Board decided no, in my opinion talks led by the City should have started with them on how to enhance what they have at their current site and work with the partners identified in this grant.  This is my reason for calling the meeting to have ALL the participants at the table.  I started this conversation over a month ago and tried to get this meeting together prior to submitting the application but that did not happen.

“By opening another Farmers Market late this year for a soft opening and full on opening in April of 2020 will certainly cause economic harm to our current farmers market at a time when we need to do everything possible to help our economic engine downtown.  With the closing of the Convention Center and now the hotel it would be better if we could work together to enhance the current market and all work together.

“… I do not want to hurt the EDA grant and am currently working to get the terms revised so that this property remains a training center run by the College in producing workers for the many important jobs needed in our area right now.  I believe that should our first priority over creating another farmers market,” Bengel said.

Mayor Pro Tem and Ward 6 Alderman Jeffrey Odham has a different take.

“The plan and concept for the city market is the same as it has always been,” Odham said in an email to the Post. “It has been unanimously supported by the previous board and the current board each time there has been a vote regarding the concept. It is my understanding that one member of our board says they weren’t aware the kitchen/market was part of the plans; however, the blueprints have always included this aspect as has as the CNI (Choice Neighborhood Initiative) plan.

“The concept has garnered quite a bit of support through multiple grants and various groups/leaders throughout the region. Now that one of the key partners recently decided to leave, we lost quite a bit of funding with the exit of this partner.

“The direction of the board has been supportive of the plan. Until a majority of the board gives direction, staff will continue pushing forward. Individual board members going against the direction of a full board sets a dangerous precedent.”

Base Camp’s withdrawal was not just limited to its withdrawal from the plan. Its board plans to “advise those entities that we are no longer part of the project.”

That’s not all.

“In reference to the funding that we have received for the City Market, we will coordinate with the grantor to determine the returning or reallocation of their funds,” Singleton said in her letter.

The rub is that a city farmer’s market would compete with the existing New Bern Farmers Market on South Front Street.

Several years ago, the city approached the Farmers Market with the idea of moving to the City Market location. When the Farmers Market board rejected the idea, city staff started playing hardball, threatening to kick Farmers Market out of its city-owned venue.

Timing didn’t work out for City Hall, however. The lease expired right at election time 2017, and rather than face backlash from furious Farmers Market members and customers, city staff extended the lease for five years but increased rent from $1 to $500 a month. It is the only case of the city charging more than token rent to a non-profit to use city-owned property.

It would also increase traffic on Second Street by an estimated 200 trips per day to start. Second Street is a primarily residential street in the Ghent neighborhood where the city has said it has been working to decrease traffic. (Disclosure: Randy Foster, the author of this article, lives within the affected area and has complained to the city about traffic on Second Street.)

The old electric utility facility on First Street is both a problem and an opportunity for the city.

Derelict and probably contaminated due to decades of industrial use, it was quite likely the city would never be able to sell it off as surplus property. On the other hand, the facility has easy freeway access and is a blank canvas for what it could be used for.

City staff first proposed a farmer’s market, but lacking support from virtually anyone, plus heated opposition from the existing Farmers Market, the city backed off – at least openly.

Instead, it partnered with Craven Community College and began renovations of the main building at the old electric utility yard, branding it as the “Volt Center” with the plan to offer college courses there.

But behind the scenes, city staff never let go of the idea of creating a farmer’s market.

The city partnered with Veterans Employment Base Camp and Organic Garden and sought a grant to pay for improvements at the old utility yard to create the farmer’s market.

The city sought a $200,817 (and fifty-cent) grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund to begin work on a farmer’s market starting Nov. 1, with a completion date on April 15, 2020.

The deadline for the grant application was March 8. The city beat the deadline by two days.

According to a statement for the Volt Center contained within the grant application, “the mission of the Volt Center is to provide access to workforce development classes, as well as an incubator and commercial kitchen, farmers market and agricultural center focusing on direct sales to the City of New Bern.

“… New Bern seeks to attract public and private reinvestment in downtown and distressed neighborhoods by offering the kinds of amenities, including workforce development opportunities, that transforms communities. New Bern seeks to develop a public/private partnership with broadbased community support.”

Two things were key to the grant application: Base Camp involvement, and broadbased community support. It is doubtful the city ever had “broadbased community support,” and now it lacks Base Camp involvement, as well.

Other points in the application amount to stretches of truth if not flat-out lies.

The application claims that the Volt Center/City Market is in Downtown New Bern. It is not; it is a full mile from the edge of downtown.

There is no mention at all that the facility would compete with an established farmer’s market.

The city has been claiming an effort to decrease traffic on Second Street, when in reality it was working behind the scenes on a project that will significantly increase traffic.

And the application said a “Market Committee of farmers and area stakeholders has been established to advise the City on the process and start-up operations,” yet no one from the existing Farmers Market has been involved, nor was the alderman from one of two wards most affected by the project.

The list goes on. Here are some excerpts from the executive summary contained within the grant application:

The City Market, located at the renovated Volt Center (the City’s former utility complex), will be a modern facility incorporating a farmer’s market featuring 32 stalls, a market café and incubator kitchen and training space for workforce development and educational programs, City Market is a partnership between the City of New Bern, Craven Community College, Veteran’s Organic Garden and Craven County. As co-applicants, the City and CCC secured grant funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, the Bate Foundation, and Golden Leaf Foundation to renovate and repurpose the Center as a training facility and farmer’s market. The farmer’s market space also includes a café that will provide kitchen space and serve as an incubator for start-up businesses ranging from bakeries to food trucks. The City asks the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission to join with other community partners to complete the City Market project, a first of its kind in downtown New Bern, N.C.
Partnering with the Veterans Organic Garden, the City of New Bern seeks to create a farmer’s market that will highlight and support agribusiness in Craven, Carteret, Jones, and Pamlico Counties. This market will be a permanent, year-round farmer’s market offering selling opportunities for farmers Wednesday thru Saturday with the ability to accommodate 32 farmers. The City Market will provide local, healthy food to consumers of all income levels and will enrich the community with opportunities to increase farm receipts and other food sales, employment, and cultural as well as educational offerings. The market will charge a low rental rate (approximately $40 per week for 4 days of selling opportunities) for farmers, as to entice participation. City Market’s mission is to create and maintain a market that supports area farmers through increased exposure to the consumer and additional revenues from the direct sale of produce.
A wide variety of fresh products will help insure the success and sustainability of City Market. The Market seeks not only produce farmers, but seafood, dairy, and egg vendors as well. A Market Committee of farmers and area stakeholders has been established to advise the City on the process and start-up operations. Farmers will be involved in making decisions about hours of operation, setup and layout design, etc. A Market Manager will also be hired to oversee a point of sale, market and café operations and education and special event coordination. Thus, farmers will have significant input in the development of the Market prior to its opening. A “soft opening” of City Market is set for the 2019 Holiday Season. A Grand Opening with farmers selling to consumers is targeted for the Spring of 2020.
In addition to expanding and enhancing the economic strength and viability of Eastern NC farmers, City Market will contribute to the education of city and county residents. With its location within the newly repurposed Volt Center, City Market will also be an Education Center for the community. Here, farmers will have access to small business classes specifically geared to agribusiness. Partnering with NC Cooperative Extension offices in each county and Craven Community College, City Market will be a vehicle for farmers to attain specific certifications, workforce development training programs and community education. NC Cooperative Ext will present a series of classes on the nutritional, environmental, and economic value of buying local sustainably-produced farm products.
Youth education will also be a focus with after school learning opportunities beginning at the preschool age. The area’s local Boys and Girls Club is also located less than 2 blocks from the Volt Center enhancing educational opportunities for these “at-risk” youth. Education and business development will interface at City Market’s Incubator kitchen and Café and training. Here, the Market will allow workforce development opportunities to train hospitality workers for mobile food carts and trucks, and encourage culinary events to take place at the market. Many new chefs, bakers, and food artisan are looking for ways to launch their businesses in New Bern, and the City Kitchen. In addition, the Market will promote the “farm to table” concept among local restaurants offering special selling opportunities for farmers to sell directly to restaurants. The incubator kitchen will give entrepreneurs affordable commercial kitchen access as well as collaborative space in which to launch their businesses. The kitchen collective has the potential not only to help put amazing and delicious food into the hands of those living in the greater New Bern community but, create jobs, help launch new and exciting culinary businesses, and assist in helping businesses incubate and grow in the tri-counties.
Outcomes include:
    • Increased healthy foods in food deserts which New Bern is classified.
    • Increased fruit and vegetable consumption.
    • Strengthened local and regional food systems.
    • Improved local economy.
    • Reduced emissions.
City Market’s central location between the main thoroughfare to New Bern’s downtown commercial and historic districts and Hwy. 70 offers access to local commuter traffic as well as visitors to the region. Through a targeted marketing approach, the City of New Bern seeks to capture at least 2% of this traffic which will have a significant impact on farmer’s direct sales. It will promote City Market as a tourist attraction and community center featuring special events that draw shoppers to the farmer’s market and provide entertainment and activities for all ages. Located within walking distance of several economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, Five Points and Duffeyfield as well as 2 public housing projects, City Market will increase access to healthy foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Our farmers hope to place their price points below the grocery store prices to encourage participation. The City hopes to strengthen local food systems, and contribute to a livelier pedestrian environment. City Market will promote healthy eating, and encourage a diet filled with rich whole foods, while highlighting local farmers’ beautiful produce, dairy and meat products. City Market will enrich the lives of many in the tri-counties. Community beneficiaries include residents of multiple New Bern Area neighborhoods, farmers, veterans and residents of all ages, chefs, restaurant-owners and business owners in Craven, Pamlico and Jones Counties.
… Sales for the Café opened 4 days per week will generate $180,000 (avg. $900 per day x 4 days per week) which equates to $12,000 in state tax. Food trucks (4) will estimate $24,000 generated in state tax.
… With increased support from the City of New Bern, the Incubator Kitchen and Farmers Market will produce an economic driver for local farmers, will give entrepreneurs affordable commercial kitchen access as well as collaborative space in which to launch their businesses to encourage economic stability. The City Market will bring business to neighboring stores. Spending money at farmers markets keeps your money in circulation within the local community, preserving and creating local jobs. Selling at the market allows City Market start our business slowly and focus on building our brand and customer base, where its impossible to do so at the big chains.
… Shopping at farmers markets that offer seasonal, locally grown food may reduce fossil fuel energy used to produce, process, and transport food, and can reduce the energy intensity of and individual’s diet if more plant-based foods are consumed in place of animal products. Shopping at farmers markets that offer seasonal, locally grown foods may reduce fossil fuel energy used to produce, process, and transport food.
Our farmers reduce the environmental and health impacts of pesticides by eliminating them or selecting effective materials with fewer known environmental health hazards. They treat animals humanely and strive to preserve the soil, water and wildlife habitat for future generations.
… City Market through the Volt Center will offer multiple educational initiatives for all ages. By exposing youth to farming and agribusiness, as well as educational opportunities and activities, they will be able to better envision a career in farming and will be more likely to choose this as their life’s work. Thus, City Market will continue to perpetuate future farmers and contribute to the stability and future of farming in the tri-county area of Craven, Pamlico and Jones Counties.
… City Market, through its numerous community partnerships and its marketing plan will bring awareness to the importance of farming and food production among all area populations, thus promoting and highlighting the significance of farming as an industry as well as promoting The Market as a community retail and gathering place. In addition, several neighborhoods adjacent to the Market are considered food deserts. The Market will help alleviate these food desert areas and increase the availability of fresh delivered produce to our disadvantage neighborhoods, by using targeted farmers.
Goal 1
Establish the City Market, a community market that will provide tangible support of local growers and producers in Craven, Jones, and Pamlico Counties, enhance greater New Bern’s economy and tourism industry. Through its partnerships with area nonprofit, government and educational institutions, the City of New Bern will create an easily accessible, centrally located, self-sustaining, community based farmer’s market. The City Farmers Market will promote the accessibility of fresh produce by capturing local and tourist traffic traveling on State Highway 70, which is one mile from the City Farmers Market Center location and brings NC residents from Raleigh and central NC to the coast and outer banks.
Objective 1
The City of New Bern is in the final stages of retrofitting the City Market complex with 16 anchor bays for farmers to display produce, dairy, seafood, and meats to be sold directly to consumers. Total vendor stalls when the Market is operating at full capacity is 32. The Market complex will be complemented by a Café and  Training/Incubator Kitchen.
The City Market will be a market for farmers with strong farmer input. The City Market Stakeholder Committee, a committee of community farmers, business, education and nonprofit leaders, has been formed and is assisting in planning, raising awareness and encouraging participation in the City Market by area farmers.
In 2012, in Craven County, there were 256 farms comprising 70,632 acres and 276 acres on average. In addition to acreage producing grains, etc. Craven County farmers planted more than 35 acres in vegetables such as sweet corn, sweet potatoes and pumpkins. City Market and its Stakeholder Committee will reach out to those farmers and recruit them as City Market vendors. Reasonable rental rates and a strong marketing campaign and a single point of sale are supportive services the Market will provide that will encourage their participation. Local farmers can steer pricing and give guidance to ensure success and high farmer engagement in the Market. Currently, Craven ranks 28th in cash receipts from crops and livestock. Ultimately, selling and marketing of farm activities and production will bring awareness to NC Farms and improve the overall economy of NC.
The tri-counties’ proximity to MCAS Cherry Point, Camp LeJeune and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base make this area attractive to veterans. Approximately 10% of the 150,000+ people living in Craven, Pamlico, Jones Counties are Veterans. Many are choosing farming as a second career. The City has partnered with the Veteran’s Employment Base Camp (VEBCOG) is a non-profit organization designed to reintroduce unemployed, disabled veterans back in to the workforce as a productive, employable individual. VEBCOG will provide temporary employment and training during the post-war transitional phase. Urban farming is incorporated in the program as a peaceful means of rehabilitation for the veterans, who have previously faced more trying and violent situations while in the service. These veterans will especially be encouraged to sell at the Market and use it as incubator for their farming initiatives. City Market and its Stakeholder’s Committee can provide much needed support and mentorship for those new to farming.
Objective 2
The City Market will increase area farmers’ revenues from direct sales. Regional (eastern North Carolina) estimates for small farmer’s market’s gross sales (12 farmers) on a Saturday morning are approximately $1,000 per hour for a 3-hour period. By increasing the number of days and hours farmers are able to sell their products directly to consumers to 4 days per week for 5 hrs. per day, City Market’s goal is to increase farmer’s revenues from $250 per week to approximately $1500 per week over the next 2 years.
Scholarships for Market rent will also be available for new farmers and those needing that financial support. City Market will target its marketing efforts to capture commuters returning home from downtown offices, local residents of the adjacent neighborhoods as well as the Downtown Historic District and Ghent Neighborhoods and tourists frequenting the Greater New Bern Area. 12,000 cars travel on First Street on their way to or from downtown New Bern every week. In addition, an average of 101,000 thousand cars pass by on Highway 70E each day. The City of New Bern seeks to capture 2% of this commuter market and position itself as “a neighborhood market” for those residents living within walking distance of the Market. The City will advertise, market, and raise awareness to ensure high visitor volume and success of City Market by adding in-kind advertising dollars. If only 2% of the commuter traffic passing by the Market makes a $20.00 purchase, the overall gross profit to farmers and ranchers annually will be $106,000.
Objective 3
Increase domestic consumption of and access to locally produced agricultural products to all residents. City Market will work with NC Cooperative Extension and other entities to educate the community, engage families in the Market and promote these healthy food choices. The City of New Bern received a Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant in 2015. The Choice Neighborhoods area is adjacent to the City Market location. 36% of the population of these neighborhoods lives at or below the poverty level. However, during the planning period, 30% of the population surveyed indicated they wanted access to fresh produce. Thus, City Market hopes to impact low income neighborhoods with increased availability and proximity of fresh fruits and produce, meats, and diary products. The Market is in walking distance to 3,300 people living in the Greater Five Points areas. City Market will educate these neighbors about healthy eating and food choices as well as having market vendors accept SNAP benefit cards.
Performance Measure
    • Performance Measure #1 100% of Anchor Bays filled by Dec. 2020
    • Performance Measure #2 Increase in Dollar value and percentage of increase in sales of one or more specialty crops as the result of marketing and/or promotional activities happening at the City Market. Farmers will establish baselines of sales using sales @ farmers’ markets in Lenior and Pitt Counties to determine performance measures. As stated above, a measurable outcome of the Market will be increased sales revenues for farmers
    • Performance Measure #3 80% of Total Market Bays filled by Dec. 2021.
    • Performance Measure #4 City Market will work with NC Cooperative Extension to track growth in acreage planted in vegetables and produce and livestock sold/meat production.
… Target Market patrons will be downtown New Bern residents, business owners and employees during the week commuting home from work. The goal is to capture 10% of daily traffic on “Market Days”. The Market will draw from surrounding pedestrian neighborhoods including people living in the Greater Five Points Areas, New Bern Historic District and Ghent Neighborhoods (approximate 5,000 area population). (*Please note that populations have shifted due to Hurricane Florence flooding and it is difficult to project exact #s).
Weekly Market Draw: Individuals living in Jones, Craven and Pamlico counties, as well as, tourists traveling on Highway 70 headed to the Crystal Coast Beaches. Daily Market patrons targeted at 100 per day on average.
The farmers’ market will be self-sustaining. The City Market will have stall rental revenues (estimated total revenue @ $760 per week for the first 2 yrs.) as well as income from rental space for events and conferences. Some performance events will also charge a base fee. The City will continue to support the market with in-kind donations, and a board of producers will be responsible for managing and promoting it. When the Market is operating at full capacity, the City anticipates that Farmer’s Market rental fees generate approximately $1240 per week in income for the Market.
Goal 2
City Market is establishing a City Cafe as well as an Incubator Kitchen and Training Space located within the Market Complex. Market Café and Kitchen will serve agricultural producers, food product companies, caterers and food trucks, as well as students and instructors at the Volt Center. This model of clients will create jobs at the Cafe, and encourage entrepreneurial startups. Farmers will be able to sell directly to the Café and entrepreneurs operating there.
City Market farmers from Craven and surrounding counties will benefit from technical support and business assistance, as well as packaging, and marketing help with product line expansion. Meeting space included in kitchen design will serve as a training room for farmers and the public. Local vendor certification and Market training events geared toward vendors, and food handling classes will be conducted in the space. The Community is encouraged to use the space for education, as well as a central location for fundraisers and special events.
Objective 1
The City Market will create a first of its kind Incubator kitchen/restaurant to compliment the Farmer’s Market. The kitchen will serve as a instructional space for educational partnerships with Craven Community College, as well as local nonprofits. The Café space has been created, bathrooms installed. Grant funds awarded through grants from Golden Leaf Foundation and the EDA have enabled the City to “rough-in” plumbing, electrical, gas lines and grease trap. Outfitting the commercial kitchen space is still in process. Commercial Kitchen equipment and supplies are still needed. The dining space (indoor and on the porch) will seat 30 people focused primarily on lunch service.
Cooking classes and adult education space are also included in the kitchen design. Individual food lockers for bulk storage for entrepreneurial upstarts will be provided as well. Kitchen will be a certified USDA kitchen, and meet all standards set by the Craven County Health Department.
As per the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Eastern NC only lists two other incubator kitchens in the region; they are Burgaw Incubator Kitchen, Burgaw, N.C., and Eastern Carolina Food Ventures, Warsaw, N.C. The City Market’s kitchen will bring this innovation to Eastern N.C.
Objective 2
The City Market will create economic engines that will operate as profit-driven enterprises creating direct and indirect employment, and job creation through nonprofits, food trucks, and catering companies. Farmers seeking to create additional product lines can also increase personal revenue and create vertical sale opportunities.
Additional business incubation will be supported by a Maker Space that will also be located in the Café space for entrepreneurs developing prototypes and other innovative endeavors.
Direct positions created at the City Market would be 2 full time positions and 3 part time positions during Year 1 of operation. As the success of the City Market grows, positions once absorbed by the City of New Bern will be hired directly by kitchen revenues.
Indirect jobs for additional seasonal selling help in bays would be between 10 and 20 part time positions paid for by foundation grants and donations. Additional jobs can come from nonprofits such as Wash Away Unemployment, a nonprofit that seeks to train kitchen employees on safe serve and culinary arts.
Food trucks who need to use a USDA kitchen can create jobs by accessing the incubator kitchen. Start-up catering companies requiring commercial kitchen space will create culinary positions by using the kitchen for their events.

Objective 3
The Community encompassing the City of New Bern and surrounding counties will benefit from a meeting space located in the City Cafe.The Cafe will increase community cohesiveness by serving as a central meeting area. Hurricane Florence took its toll on the residents of New Bern, and many seek to rebuild and restore the amazing sense of community found in our small southern town. The City Cafe will create community cohesiveness allowing all income levels to gather together while supporting the great farmers and budding entrepreneurs of our area. Performance Measure
Performance measure #1 Point of Sales will be used to measure performance in the City Cafe. Performance Measure #2 Monthly vendor surveys will be taken asking to report sales for grant and performance review.
Performance Measure #3 Price strategy can be reviewed in Kitchen depending on sales, and marketing of Cafe.
Goal 3
The entire City Market site will focus on training, education and workforce development with a goal of improving the population’s job skills and improving quality of life. The City of New Bern in cooperation with its numerous community partners will establish educational opportunities and events that increase awareness of the region’s farming industry and the healthy foods it produces. City Market will become a community center that features an array of activities for all ages found through classes, events, and specialty dinners.
Objective 1
Develop adult education programs that enable current farmers and those entering the industry to continue to be on the cutting edge of this changing industry. Partnerships with NC Cooperative Extension, healthcare providers and CCC in this centrally located complex will insure that training and continuing education opportunities are easily accessible the greater New Bern community (City Market is within walking distance of more than 4,500 residents of the City of New Bern).
Grower and Farmer-focused certifications and education classes offered by NC Cooperative Extension such as training in the use of particular pesticides, will be available through City Market. These will be offered at the Volt Center classroom. Farmers will also be able to access classes on proper procedures for selling produce and other products in the Farmer’s Market environment adhering to sanitation and health standards. They will also have access to the Small Business Center with business classes offered through the Volt Center.
Well-trained hospitality workers are key to capturing eastern North Carolina’s tourism market. NC Cooperative Ext. will partner with City Market to offer workforce development classes geared to the hospitality industry. Serv safe classes will complement food preparation classes (food handling/food safety courses) offered by food safety specialists that will be taking place in the Market Kitchen. City Market has set a goal of 700 adults participating in some form of continuing education at the Market in 2020.
General education and enrichment includes events happening at the Marketplace and Café. Demos and tastings, hands on classes showcasing downtown Chefs, and workshops on various cooking styles will just be some of the offerings. Special events during Farmer’s Market hours will also be held to support farmers’ selling in the marketplace.
Objective 2
Youth Education includes:
Veterans Employment Base Camp and Organic Gardens (VEBCOG) in partnership with NC Cooperative Extension will conduct 4H programming to provide hands on experimental classes at the City Market. VEBCOG will have an activities calendar with monthly programs to increase the number and types of educational events. The site will bring agricultural opportunities to the market so that youth can engage and learn about the different types of farming practices.
“Give youth a chance to meet farmers at the City Market” will provide a targeted audience to introduce children and their families to an amazing array of produce not always offered in the average supermarket. Special events will offer opportunities for children and youth to meet and talk with farmers while parents buy directly from them gives farmers a better return for their produce.
Students will also be educated on farm animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass and eaten natural diets. Preschool children, school age children, and high school students will experience the excitement of tasting new, fresh colorful foods. Students will be introduced to farming and be entertained by special events focused to their appropriate age group.
City Market Summer day camps and field trip opportunities for area county schools (Craven, Pamlico, Jones, Carteret and Onslow) will also be planned.
Objective 3
The City Market Cafe and Kitchen will play a strong role in community educational opportunities hosting adult education events, culinary classes, and workshops showcasing the bounty of New Bern farmers and artisans. The Café features a training center where Safe Serv and food prep classes will take place. Partnering with NC Cooperative Extension to expand its availabilty of classes, the City Market Kitchen will offer Cooksmart/Eat Smart Classes. Monthly cooking classes featuring our downtown chefs will be offered using prepared items from the City Market. Product tastings, pop-up events, community dinners, and community supported agricultural programs will be held in the Market Kitchen. The Cafe seeks to make food feel like an adventure, and encourage new ideas in healthy meal planning for families. The Cafe will host classes including free and fee-based options.
… Performance measures will be assessed based on adult education initiatives vs. children and youth education. The number of certificates and credentials obtained through workforce development initiatives w/CCC, VEBCOG and NC Cooperative Extension will be tracked to determine numbers issued. The number of new workers trained will also be tracked.
Class instructors will provide curriculum for teachers and others bringing students to City Market. Reviewing the day with teachers, counselors, preschool instructors, and daycare teachers, students will be quizzed as to what was learned the day of the visit. Feedback from these educators will be sought by the Market Manager to learn how to improve programs. Classes filled quickly will be noted. Literature will be passed out so to encourage repeat visits with their guardians.
Benchmark
Currently there are waiting lists for Agriculture programs offered by the extension agency. These classes fill quickly with only 25 students able to attend. The City Market will increase frequency and class sizes and monitor attendance compared to Ag extension classes. Class graduations and credentials issued will be benchmarks for success.
… The goal is 700 adults educated in Year 1. Children and youth visiting the Market for educational events, school trips, etc. is also at 1,000 during Year 1.
Children living in disadvantaged neighborhoods within a one mile radius can visit the City Market, and discover fun activities, as well as learning about healthy food choices.
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America will use the City Market as an opportunity to sell their products for fundraising activities.
Boys and Girls Club location is within walking distance to the City Market. Youth can explore the market activities for the day and participate in afterschool activities.
YMCA summer and after school programs can experience the City Market through educational activities, as well as day trip offered for Agri-tours to the farmer’s farms. YMCA is also located within a 2-mile radius.
10 Preschools are located within an 8-mile range, and activities offered after preschool for parents and their children can be a great way to encourage family togetherness.
West Craven High School has the Future Farmers of America program and can offer selling opportunities for their produce as fundraisers at the market.
4-H, classes will be offered by 4 H volunteers to bring all the wonderful programming into the city.
These classes have an attendance issue for disadvantaged youth due to the location of the classes.
This will allow wonderful agricultural programming to be available for all children.
… Adult educational programs will be tracked by class attendance, numbers of certificates awarded and jobs obtained as a result.
Survey distributed to parents whose children visited the market can inform the staff on how the programming was received. Staff can adjust length and content based on parents and school teachers surveys.
… CCC will track students completing workforce development training programs at City Market and then, ascertaining jobs to determine the success of adult education programs.
Before attending the City Market activities, instructors should prepare students as they would for a regular class. This gives the students areas to pay attention to when visiting the market. Age appropriate materials will be given to instructors. City market event director is especially interested in the data learned, and what captured the attention of the children. Improvements will be made as needed during monthly farm meetings.
How will data be collected? (For example: a survey, sign in sheet or financial records) The Market manager will work with his/her education partners (CCC, NC Cooperative Extension, CarolinaEast to capture this data. Surveys will be administered.
Field trips will be especially important to the education of children, and hopefully a repeat visits by parents. City Market staff will provide age appropriate worksheets and lectures before attending the City Market event. This will give the children and idea as to what they will be seeing and what they need to pay extra attention to once they are at the market. Feedback from instructors will be given in an email survey to City Market Manager. Manager then can make improvements on field trip events.
If the project is to continue beyond the grant period, describe how the project will continue to be funded and/or be self-sustaining.
The City Market will offer both free and fee-based classes to adults and children of all ages. Parents and guardians will be pay a fee associated with a few of the classes to cover costs. Grants and donations will cover scholarships for adults who meet financial criteria and disadvantaged youth to participate in classes.
Budget
Personnel Amount includes fringe benefits $45,500.00
Equipment Amount $130,350.00
Administration Amount $3,700.00
Capital Improvement Amount $5,000.00
Supplies Amount $16,267.50
City of New Bern Personnel
Economic Development Staff and Community Development Staff: Wages $28,750, Benefits $8625
Maintenance/Custodial Staff: Wages $3,900 Benefits $1,170
Farmers Market Supplies/Equipment
3 Picnic Tables ADA Compliant Wheelchair Accessible: $2,658.54
4 Picnic Tables Square: $3,300
7 Patio/Cafe Umbrellas: $693
NCTTFC Recognition
NCTTFC will be recognized as a supporter of the City Market Project on the City of New Bern, Veteran’s Employment Base Camp and the newly developed City Market websites. Press releases sent to local, as well as regional new media (tv and newspaper), social media posts and PSAs on public radio and other radio stations will also mention NCTTFC’s support. The City also has its own television station (Ch. 10 in New Bern) that airs public meetings and local event information. City Market will be promoted on that station.
City Market brochures promoting the Market will also include NCTTFC’s name and logo. 15,000 of these will be printed initially and will be distributed through Craven County TDA and State rest stops and visitor centers. Market bags may also be printed and will include NCTTFC’s logo.
PROJECTED IMPACTS BY ENDING DATE:
Total # Jobs Created (Permanent/Temporary) 7
Total # Jobs Sustained (Permanent/Temporary) 7
Number of Workers Re-Employed 10
Quota Holders Assisted 10
Current or Former Tobacco Farmers Assisted 10
Amount of New Income for Former Tobacco Workers $307,200
Number of Workers with Upgraded Skills 60
Persons Receiving Increased Educational Training 700
Total Number of People Served 12,000
Acres of Farmland Protected/Impacted 6,000
Volume of Product Produced/Distributed/Sold 30,000
Value of Product Produced/Distributed/Sold $217,192.00

Posted in Board of Aldermen, Business, Community issues, Craven Community College, Farmers Market, Food

March 19th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

You’ll want to get your taxes done and your schedule freed up for the myriad of events and activities in and around Downtown New Bern the weekend of April 12-14. The weekend is packed with home tours, a concert, art gallery tours, a 5K run, and wine, beer and spirits tastings.

“What’s nice about it is that it brings all kinds of elements together,” said Lynne Harakal, director of Swiss Bear Inc., the Main Street organization for Downtown New Bern.

Whether you’re a local or coming in town for the weekend, there are opportunities for a lot of different activities, she said.

New to Downtown New Bern are Saturday arts and music events that use Bear Plaza as their venue. Starting in April and continuing through MumFest in October, music and arts events will be held in Bear Plaza.

Saturday Sessions, a music event, will be held on the first and third Saturdays. Art-themed events will be held on second and fourth Saturdays. Rare fifth Saturdays will alternate between music and the arts. All events will include arts and story-time activities for children.

“Overdue for a community like ours is to have something like this,” Harakal said.  “We should be having regularly scheduled music and arts downtown.”

Event hours are 1-5 p.m. Saturdays at Bear Plaza, which intersects with Middle Street between South Front and Pollock streets.

Early risers can start at Farmers Market, have lunch and then catch music or arts. Late risers can start at Bear Plaza, have dinner downtown, and then catch a play at New Bern Civic Theatre or enjoy cocktails, beer and wine at Downtown New Bern’s numerous night spots.

Coming from out of town and want to stay for the weekend? Not a problem. New Bern has a wealth of hotels, motels, and bed & breakfasts that will suit all tastes. Go to https://www.visitnewbern.com/where-to-stay-new-bern-nc/ for more information.

Here are the details for some of the weekend activities April 12-14. Additional events and details can be found at https://www.visitnewbern.com/events-calendar2/

Posted in Activities, Community, Entertainment, Events, Farmers Market, Food

March 14th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

City is seeking a grant to create a new farmers market-type enterprise at the City Market location on First Street. No surprise there.

The city floated the idea years ago when it tried to move the existing Farmers Market from South Front Street to the City Market location. That’s how City Market got its name.

The city backed off a strong-arm approach amid a vigorous opposition from Farmers Market members and customers, and renewed the lease on the facility last year.

The city changed the name of the main building on the First Street property to the Volt Center and partnered with Craven Community College to hold classes there, but documents the city presented to the state for grant funding still called the property “City Market.”

Alderman Sabrina Bengel called it “duplicitous” and was upset that Farmers Market representatives have not been included in the discussion.

The City Market plan would create vendor stalls and food services. The original plan included a band stage.

Residents of the Ghent Neighborhood, which abuts City Market, have worried about the noise and impacts in their neighborhood a busy City Market would create.

City officials have dismissed their concerns.

 

Posted in Board of Aldermen, Farmers Market

November 1st, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

On Saturday,  Nov. 10, the New Bern Farmer’s Market turns over its building to the 3rd Annual Rockin’ for Relief for  Homeless Veterans and, in partnership with CresCom Bank, takes its 70 vendors across South Front Street to the parking lot of the bank.  Market hours  for this outdoor red, white and blue event remain 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The Veterans Benefit Concert will take place in the Market building from noon until 6 p.m.  All proceeds will go to the Religious Community Services Project for Homeless Veterans.  Featured performers include The Peace Soldier Band,  Shoot to Thrill,  Strung Together, The Joe Baes Project and Bobby Hurff and The Gypsy Sunrise.

Tickets are $20, which includes a lunch by Moore’s BBQ / Coke, and are available at Mitchell Hardware, Fuller Music, The Brown Pelican, at the door and at www.peacesoldierband.com.

Vendors and shoppers are encouraged to wear red, white and blue to show their American spirit. Folks can shop from over 70 vendors – with special discounts for veterans – offering fresh farm raised fruits and veggies, local baked goods, and hand-crafted items from local artists and businesses featuring organic soaps and lotions, jewelry, artwork, custom furniture and more. This special Farmers Market event will have local food trucks, demonstrations and live music by the Happy Ukers. The Flagman will also be handing out American flags to wave with pride and sharing flag history lessons to interested children and families.

“We are so happy to be able to support RCS and their wonderful work with our veterans,” said Joe Hunt, Market President. “We hope to see a large turnout of Farmer’s Market shoppers cross the street and attend the concert.”

CresCom Bank will be onsite with goodies and a raffle for a $50 gift card to Blackbeard’s Triple Play Restaurant and Bar for veterans in attendance. The CresCom Bank ATM will be available for use during the Farmers Market.  Branch operations for this location are still pending reopening from the effects of Hurricane Florence and additional details will be released once available.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the New Bern Farmers Market and to especially help shine a light on Veterans right here in our New Bern community,” said David L. Morrow, CEO of CresCom Bank. “To all of the Veterans in the communities we serve and across our nation, thank you for your courageous service to the American people and our country.”

Supporting Veterans is part of the CresCom Bank philosophy. In fact, CresCom Bank is the only community bank in North and South Carolina to offer Veteran’s Checking, which provides Veteran’s with exclusive perks and special offerings to thank those who have put our country first.

____________________________________________________

What: New Bern Farmers Market – Veterans Day Celebration with CresCom Bank

Where: CresCom Bank Parking Lot, South Front Street, New Bern NC (across from the Farmer’s Market Building)

Time: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

____________________________________________________

Posted in Farmers Market

October 2nd, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain invites families in New Bern and surrounding areas to a community dinner for those impacted by Hurricane Florence.

Provided in partnership with sponsors Toyota of New Bern and Taco Bell, guests are invited to take a break from recovery efforts to have dinner and fellowship and pick up much needed supplies for those who need them, with music provided by CapitalDJ.

  • WHAT: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain holding Community Dinner. Admission is free.
  • WHEN: Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 6:30pm until 8:30pm
  • WHERE: New Bern Farmer’s Market, 401 S. Front Street, New Bern

The mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. There are 17 Clubs throughout Pitt, Beaufort, Lenoir, Martin, Greene, Carteret, and Craven Counties serving approximately 1,400 members daily and 3,600 yearly. For more information, visit the Clubs online at www.bgccp.com or call 252-355-2345.

Posted in Boys & Girls Club, Craven County, Farmers Market, Hurricane, New Bern

September 26th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

The New Bern Farmer’s Market re-opens Saturday, Sept. 29, at 8 a.m. thanks in part to the “wonderful Band of Brothers from the 113th Field Artillery of the North Carolina National Guard,” the group said in a news release.

For the near term, The Farmer’s Market will be open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Market has been power washed and sanitized, debris has been removed, and up to 70 vendors are ready to meet your needs with local produce, baked goods and hand-crafted items.

Celebrating the re-opening, the 22-person “Craven Ukes” will be entertaining shoppers with many of the old time sing-along favorites.

“Downtown New Bern has made tremendous strides in returning to normalcy,” Farmer’s Market announced. “Restaurants and shop doors are open.  Support the Heart of New Bern by coming Downtown to shop, to browse and to dine. The Merchants, Restauranteurs and Shoppers need each other.”

Posted in Farmers Market, Hurricane, New Bern

September 17th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Normally folks come to the New Bern Farmer’s Market to see, to sample and to buy locally grown fresh produce and other farm products, to smell the sweet aroma of fresh baked items and to enjoy the wide array of beautifully hand-crafted items. And that’s the norm!

Along comes Florence who did none of the above and thoughtlessly deposited 4 feet of yucky water. And so…like so many of our fellow Downtown Merchants, the massive clean-up has begun. The clean-up consists of a thorough power washing of all building surfaces, tables, chairs and other contents followed by complete sanitizing of all surfaces to insure that foodstuff and other

products are are not tainted by her rudeness.

This process should be completed early in the week of September 24th and we would hope you will appreciate the refreshed and sparkling New Bern Farmer’s

Market on Saturday, September 29th.  Our Saturday hours are 8 a.m. ’til 2

p.m. and 10 a.m. ’til 2 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Come on by and see our motto in action …MAKE IT, BAKE IT, GROW IT, SEW IT

Bill Rust, New Bern Farmer’s Market

Posted in Farmers Market, New Bern

July 20th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

NORTH CAROLINA HEALTH NEWS | Farmer markets around the state will have another month in the busy summer growing season to figure out how to keep accepting food assistance benefits electronically at their stands.

The National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (NAFMNP) announced Thursday it will send a month’s worth of  operating funds to technology company Nova Dia Group to keep its MarketLink software running until the end of August, according to a news release sent out Thursday.

The move came just two weeks before 1,700 farmers markets around the county, including 45 in North Carolina, would have to stop accepting the  Electronic Benefit Cards (EBT) that many depend on. No permanent solution has been announced.

At farmers markets around North Carolina, the tables are piled high with tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, peaches and more.

But even as the growing season is peaking, some folks who might want to buy will have a harder time bringing those fresh fruits and vegetables home.

That’s because the technology company that currently processes Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) benefits at 40 percent of the country’s farmers markets will stop doing so at the end of July.

Left in the lurch in North Carolina are 45 farmers markets, farm stands and mobile markets and the low-income customers that use their SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer cards to buy that produce through a purchasing program that runs off of Apple iPads and iPhones, according to Lisa Misch, a program coordinator who works on food access issues for the Pittsboro-based Rural Advancement Foundation International.

The Austin-based Nova Dia Group confirmed to the Washington Post early last week it planned to cease operating the technology it sells to farmer markets after July 31, setting off a panic among those who run farmers markets and public health officials working to boosting SNAP use at those markets.

More at North Carolina Health News

Posted in Farmers Market, Health, State news, State politics

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