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RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — Small businesses across the Piedmont are adjusting to the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.
Millstone Creek Orchards in eastern Randolph County was preparing for another fruitful season when the stay-at-home order hit.
“Very scary. Very scary as it started,” said Beverly Mooney with Millstone Creek Orchards.
Scary because Mooney wasn’t sure if her market, Apple Barn Market, even had product to sell that would keep her farmers paid.
“I have a bakery, we have canned goods. I wanted to see if I could some how adjust it that we could get the food to the people while bringing more people in with other ideas,” Mooney said.
That’s when Mooney recruited other growers and farmers to create the Apple Barn Mobile Market. Vee Patterson with Vee’s Place Old Fashion Bakery in Ramseur couldn’t resist the offer.
“It’s great. I really enjoy being a part of it,” Patterson said. “It’s exciting, and I am glad it has taken off and done as well as it has.”
The mobile market started with three vendors. Now it’s up to about 12. Customers can come to the store and buy farm fresh products from mobile market participants or order online. Delivery is free if you live within 15 miles of Millstone Creek Orchards.
For Patterson, selling her fresh baked breads and dinner rolls on the Apple Barn Mobile Market is extra special.
“My daughter uses the mobile market because she has autoimmune issues, and she is staying at home as much as possible,” Patterson said.
Gina Upchurch with Double Nut Farm in Chatham County supplies the mobile market with pork products like sausage and pork chops. She likes the market because it allows local growers to play a bigger role in our food supply.
“One of the things that is shinning in the darkness of this virus is that people are realizing how important supporting your community farmers are,” Upchurch said.
Since joining the Apple Barn Mobile Market, Vee’s Place Old Fashion Bakery is selling more bread. Millstone Creek Orchards is making payroll and asking returning workers to come back early.
“As it took momentum, I had to start bringing in some of our traditional staff,” Mooney said. “They normally wouldn’t come in ’til fruit production. I needed them early because I couldn’t do the work on my own.”
So will the Apple Barn Mobile Market continue as stay-at-home rules are relaxed?
“Initially, I would have said no because it is outside of our comfort zone,” Mooney said. “It’s been challenging to do, but I am changing my mind.”
Apple Barn Mobile Market is adding new vendors and new products to its lineup.