Lettuce Tunnel
The 300-foot hydroponic greenhouse in Maxton produces between 7,000 to 10,000 heads of lettuce each week. (Photo courtesy MG3 Farms)

Despite some crop losses due to the damaging mid-March freeze, spring has arrived in the Sandhills, and so have new vendors and regular favorites for the opening of the Moore County Farmers Market at 8 a.m., Saturday, April 15, in the downtown park in Southern Pines.

New to this year’s market is Biscoe-based White Oak Farm, which grows rabbiteye blueberries and a wide range of produce.

“We had a few very long nights protecting the blueberries,” says Gary Dunn, of Biscoe. “It looks like we saved half the crop, and we’re hoping for the best. Once we’re past April 15 the risk of another freeze is greatly reduced.”

Gary and Connie Dunn took over the 117-year-old family farm when they retired from the laundry business several years ago.

“It was meant to be our retirement, but we haven’t had that experience,” says Gary, with a laugh. “We’re small and grow on a little over 3 acres, but it’s what we can handle. We do it with the help of three full-time workers during the summer.”

Their long hours and work effort pay off with tunnel-grown, early tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.

“We just sold two bushels of pickling cukes yesterday,” he says.

The Dunns’ booth will overflow with all the seasonal favorites including lettuces, curly leaf and Russian kale, Swiss chard, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, radicchio, garlic, greens, beets, turnips, squash, peppers, corn, beans, peas, potatoes and heirloom tomatoes.

To satisfy your asparagus craving, be sure to visit Ben and Dayna Parry’s booth to secure your share of this early spring vegetable.

Healthy shoots of asparagus emerge from the soil thanks to the warmth of spring sunshine. (Photo courtesy Manna Hill Farm)

“It was dicey in March when the spears were several inches out of the ground, and the freeze moved in,” says Ben Parry. “I harvested what I had, then cut back nearly 3,000 crowns to protect the crop.”

He says if the warm weather continues, it will ensure a healthy…