If you travel down Hwy 158 right outside of Murfreesboro, NC, you will see a large, jaunty edifice identified as the Red Barn Market. It is the culmination of well-over a decade of work and dedication by a community.
Now a busy nexus of farmers, crafters, food artisans, and agricultural projects, the Farmers’ Market was once a “pilot project” of concerned citizens. In 2001, anxious to create an organized outlet for local farmers to sell their goods directly to the public, the Murfreesboro New Master Gardeners partnered with the Murfreesboro Historical Association for use of the parking lot at the Roberts Vaughan Village Center. Using tailgates and trailers, the farmers offered fresh, local vegetables and fruits to the public while vendors sold baked goods, candles, soaps and crafts. The pilot project was a success and the future Red Barn Market was born.
Over the next year, the project was formalized
and incorporated, and in 2002, the IRS
recognized the venture – now known as the
Hertford-Northampton Farmers’ Market – as a
valid 501(c)3 corporation and exempt from
federal income tax. With a view toward growth
and expansion of educational pursuits, Market
President, Lynn Johnson, arranged for a 2.5 acre land package to be leased by the Market for a nominal fee by Watson-Johnson Farms, LLC. This parcel – the Market’s present site – is located on Route 158 just east of the Hertford County Line in Northampton County within 2 miles of historic Murfreesboro.
Continuing the pattern of community support, services to grade the site, cut trees, install a gravel driveway and parking area were donated by a local building contractor. The Market was deeded such gifts as an overseer’s home, another house circa 1830, and a vintage smokehouse circa 1830 – all relocated to the site in collaboration with the Northampton County Historical Society. Their placement on the site creates a village of dependencies typical of a working farm of the past. Abandoned tobacco barns were donated as part of a social enterprise venture called “Twice Used Wood” which trained disadvantaged young men and women to dismantle and ready the vintage wood for retail sale to architects and contractors. This program was designed to provide an income source for the nonprofit Market and an experiment in grassroots economic development for the region. The fruits of this venture can now be seen in professional offices and conference rooms in Raleigh.
On Saturday mornings, during the growing
seasons, vendors sold their wares at their
“selling spaces” – plank tables arranged into
booths for commerce with the public. Again,
the Market grew, and it soon became apparent
that a more permanent arrangement was
required. Under the continued leadership of
Market President Lynn Johnson, a special
allocation was sought and obtained from the
North Carolina General Assembly, and the
cheerful red building you see now was
It was with great enthusiasm that the Board of Directors and officers of the “Red Barn Market” welcomed North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler to preside at the ribbon cutting of the new building. No longer treading on a gravel floor in the open air, vendors and customers now enjoy the amenities of a permanent facility, a café serving healthy and delicious fare, individual selling booths and public restrooms.
Customers can browse and purchase fresh
local vegetables and fruits, baked goods,
woodwork,handcrafts, soaps, candles, antiques,
collectibles and more.
The Market, as history has shown, is not a
static endeavor. Plans are underway to
cultivate “pick your own” crops, construct a
grape arbor, and provide free selling space for
flea market and yard sale entrepreneurs.
Musical entertainment by local talent is now
offered on a regular basis for the enjoyment of vendors and visitors alike. Non-profit institutions from Hertford and Northampton Counties contribute staging areas for agricultural, wellness and livestock demonstrations. All of these pursuits – past, present and future – are in accordance with the Market’s mission to educate and support the farming families of our community. We welcome you to visit and enjoy the fruits of our labor in beautiful northeastern North Carolina.