Growing the Apex Farmers Market

Queen’s Jollof Sauce is one of the many local products available at the Apex Farmers Market.

Eileen Herbst is a passionate ambassador for all that downtown Apex has to offer. As a board member for the Apex Farmers Market and Local Food Alliance, she knows local businesses and understands their challenges — even in the face of a global pandemic. 

With food truck rodeos and festivals on the calendar, 2020 started as a year of fun possibilities in the Peak of Good Living. But, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Herbst and the Apex Farmers Market team had to change their plans.  

“Out of an abundance of caution, the town asked us to stop having an in-person market,” Herbst said. “But there was still such a need. We took a step back and thought about what was the best way to approach this.” 

The market team knew they had to pivot to serve the growing need in the community and to support vendors who relied on the market to sell produce and local wares. To adhere to local guidelines, they took the market online. Leif and Alexis Jenssen, with Peak City Podcast, recently spoke with Herbst about the market and how they grew in a year of continuous change.

Tell us about yourself and your position with Apex Farmers Market.

I have been on the Apex Farmers Market board for about a year and a half. I serve as the secretary and treasurer. We are a 100% volunteer board and nonprofit.

Haven Farm sells free-range chicken and pork at the market.

Can you talk about the steps you took to keep the market going last year and how that process went?

People missed the market. We felt for our vendors that were trying to sell their produce and local items. People needed groceries and needed to get out of the house and do things. 

We stepped up, put everything online, and had a drive-by market. People would order through the website, and it was contactless. We were able to sustain that through the winter and felt good that we were able to serve that. It was kind of a win-win for our vendors and the town, and certainly for customers. 

How have you taken what you learned from that moment and carried that into the next season?

In 2020, we had such great hopes and dreams for lots of fun things to happen. I think that energy was still there, and our hope to make a big change was still there. The town helped by giving us a different location, which was huge. We were able to bring more vendors in, so we have lots of great new vendors now that we didn’t have before. 

The town is growing, we’ve got this awesome space, and we’ve got the Raleigh Night Market. It’s bringing people downtown and they’re leisurely walking through the market. We’re excited about this year, and it’s only going to get better.

You mentioned a new location. Where is the market now?

The market is behind the Tobacco Mule (Exchange) building in the gravel parking lot. It’s helpful for parking for our vendors, for customers with strollers, for handicapped access, which we didn’t have before at our old location. 

You mentioned the Raleigh Night Market. Can you tell us a little bit more about that community partnership?

That’s a fun project. It’s a pop-up market that goes in different locations throughout the month. We’re hosting the second Thursday of every month from 6 to 9 p.m. Some of our regular Saturday market vendors are coming. We’ve had some music, some food trucks, and some bubbly. It’s a different vibe from the Saturday market, and it’s really fun. 

Julie Ann’s Farm offers a variety of produce and bedding plants at a recent market.

How else can we as a community support the market? 

When you come and talk to the vendors, engage with them and understand a little bit more about how they’re raising their meat and their eggs. It’s all healthy and organic. 

And, tell your friends. Go shop, bring them over for dinner, and cook them an Apex Farmer’s Market dinner!

Is there anything else you would like the community to know about the nonprofit organization or the market?

One of the nice additions that we’ve added this year is a Volunteer Ambassador Program. We’ve been so fortunate to have so many volunteers that have wanted to support and get to know our community. You’ll see different volunteers with a yellow shirt on Saturday, and the ambassadors are there to help you navigate through the downtown area. 

We’re always looking for more volunteers and local vendors. Tune into social media and sign up for emails. That’s the best way to know what’s going on. 

Peak City Podcast is your resource for everything Apex. Building bridges in the community to support a strong, vibrant and engaged community! Listen to this and other episodes at

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