Entrepreneurs Face Many Layers Of Screening To Set Up Shop At Farmers Markets

By Paul Stephen
Star-News, Wilmington, N.C.

As our overtaxed sinuses can attest, spring has arrived. Which also means that area farmers markets are beginning to heat up, with fresh produce from across the region available for customers to peruse and purchase.

But that abundant array of cookies, cakes and other confections doesn’t just spontaneously appear alongside the lettuces and leeks. Bakers have to leap through numerous hoops in order to peddle their goods.

“I don’t think anyone has any idea just how intense it is,” said Casey Roman, owner of the recently founded Rebel Baking Co. “I figured to get a table you just showed up with brownies and a smile.”

If Roman’s name sounds familiar, that’s because you’ve seen her on the nightly newscast at WECT. A TV reporter by day, she spends her downtime wrestling with wheat. She’s also one of numerous statewide entrepreneurs taking advantage of so-called “cottage industry” laws in North Carolina to launch her fledgling business, which will debut at the Carolina Beach Farmers Market on May 17.

While Joan Sims, Food Compliance Supervisor with the state’s Department of Agriculture, doesn’t have exact numbers, she feels comfortable attributing a growth in home-based production efforts to a steady expansion of farmers markets. Sims noted that two part-time inspectors were brought on exclusively to work with businesses like Roman’s.

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