“Look around you,” Bob Hudgins tells me.
I see many things as I scan the Matthews Community Farmers’ Market: I see baskets brimming with greens, radishes, and other spring crops, all grown within 50 miles of this spot. I see MaMaw Shine, a woman wearing all pink except for her floppy straw hat, calling out, “Good morning, y’all!” and “Thank you, darlin’!” to customers from behind her stall of flowers … What Hudgins wants to show me, though, is not necessarily what’s here, but what’s not here. “No one here is on their cell phone,” he says. “Nowhere else in town are you going to see that.”
The Matthews Community Farmers’ Market was the first all-local, producer-only farmers’ market in the Charlotte area, and it’s still arguably the most popular, despite being 13 miles down Independence Boulevard from uptown … There’s so much enthusiasm for the place that the Saturday market had to implement an 8 a.m. opening bell before allowing purchases. Yet as early as 7:30, shoppers are browsing tables and scoping options. When the bell rings on a recent Saturday, 27 people are queued before the New Town Farms stall. They hold coffee cups, babies, reusable totes.
And no phones.
It’d be easy to walk around the Matthews market and the surrounding downtown and believe that these faces are familiar to each other, that these families grew up together in an old-timey bliss.
Usually they’re not, and they didn’t.”