In its first round of American Rescue Plan transformation grants in July 2022, the NC Department of Commerce awarded Warren County $300,000 in the community enhancements category. Warren County has used funds to purchase the historic Warren County Agriculture Fairgrounds, just blocks away from Warrenton’s downtown Main Street.
According to the 2017 USDA Agricultural Census, the number of farms in Warren County has increased by 4% since 2012. Warren County has seen a 56% growth since 2012 in the market value of products sold. Farm-related income has grown 91% from 2012 to 2017. 94% of the county’s farms are family farms, and 10% of farms sell directly to consumers. Approximately, 17% of the county’s farms are farmers of color, and approximately 38% of farmers are female.
The county intends for the permanent location to allow for more consistent and regular access to locally produced goods for consumers, as well as allow for a longer and more diverse revenue stream for growers in the community. Additionally, a permanent home for the market will allow for the use of EBT to enhance access to locally grown vegetables, fruit, meat, and eggs for SNAP participants. The county also plans for a permanent location to host health education opportunities, such as cooking classes, weight management promotional activities, and gardening how-to sessions.
The creation of a permanent home for the market will create a sense of place for vendors and customers—existing and future—and will enhance visibility and permanence for the agricultural community. The county also intends to reactivate the space for community use, such as private events, public gatherings, festivals, and other community-oriented activities.
For more information about the farmers market project, contact Crystal Smith, Director of Warren County Cooperative Extension, at 252-257-3640.