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A growing problem: Can small farmers make it at farmers markets?
By Caitlin Coakley Although Jennifer Mullis is the kind of farmer after whom farmers markets were named, her experience at those popular Southern bazaars is not always pleasant. She and her husband, Dean, own Laughing Owl Farms in Richfield, 40 miles northeast of Charlotte, and on Saturdays, they sell eggs, greens, potatoes and other farm-fresh products at both the area’s large Charlotte Regional Farmers Market and the modest-sized Matthews Community Farmers Market. In Matthews, the Mullises compete on even terms with others who truck their produce to market from their own local farms. But at the regional market, they have to compete with so-called resellers, farmers and others who buy produce from other farms or wholesalers, then resell it. While many resellers are just trying to offer more variety, others load up on produce wherever they can get a bargain, then undercut the locals’ prices.