Interns learn and lend a hand at market

Jun. 21, 2014 @ 11:47 AM

By Emily-Kate Hannapel, Durham Farmers’ Market

We'd like to introduce you to our two summer interns -- Nicole Lassiter and Erim Akpan. Nicole and Erim are both students at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) and will be spending the next two and a half months working with the market. 

Nicole is a Durham native and mother of two. She is a sophomore at NCCU studying business administration with a concentration in business management. Here's what she has to say about interning at the market so far:

“Interning at the Durham Farmers' Market has been an eye-opening opportunity for me this summer. I did not know that there was so much that occurs at the market. I have enjoyed working at the market with select vendors as well as getting to know others. The market is a great place to purchase food as well as to understand how to work together as one. The different vendors come together under one roof and focus on the common goal of selling healthy, quality foods. 

“I recently had the pleasure of assisting in the HomeFries kids cooking class this past Saturday. I enjoyed learning alongside the kids. I have enjoyed the time I have been at the market and look forward to more interactions and meeting new people. 

“When I first took this internship I did not know what to expect since I had not actually been to a farmers’ market. Once I started attending the market I fell in love with the atmosphere, which is welcoming by all that work there. I'm looking forward to more opportunities at the market during my time this summer and hope to take what I learn with me to educate others.

Erim is also a Durham native and just finished her first year at NCCU. Erim brings a wide variety of skills to the market -- she loves to write, crochet, do magic tricks and juggle. Erim is a business major with a concentration in entrepreneurship and marketing.

Here’s what she has to say:

“Working at the Durham Farmers’ Market has been an adventure. The market is more like a weekly fair than an outdoor grocery store. There are rows of vendors selling artwork, vegetables, fruits and meat. A few steps away, there is a street lined with food trucks selling everything from lemonade to New York Italian ice. The only thing missing is a roller coaster.

“In the grassy clearing beside the market, there is often a pleasant surprise. One week, there was a “puppy kennel,” where people could go inside an enclosure to play with dogs and (ideally) adopt one. Another week, a storyteller delighted children with illustrated books and simple crafts. There are always a few musicians, scattered throughout the area: violin players, guitar players, and even keyboard player. 

“Every week is an adventure— I never know exactly what I’ll find.

“I’ve learned a lot from my experience at the farmers’ market. In addition to learning about marketing, working with people and organizational procedure, I’ve learned about food. For example, strawberries are sweetest when the weather is dry. (Too much rain dilutes their sugar content.) Cauliflower turns purple when it is exposed to severe heat or cold, but it tastes the same. Three hundred-thread count pillowcases accomplish the same thing as cheesecloth sacks. The vendors are always happy to share food facts, suggestions for recipes, and tips for choosing the best produce.

“Most unexpectedly, I found that vegetables can taste good! It was a shock to discover that iceberg lettuce can actually taste like lettuce. I also tried fennel, raw broccoli and fava beans for the first time. I am excited to see what the future holds.”

Emily-Kate Hannapel is assistant market manager of the Durham Farmers Market, open 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays and 3:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays at 501 Foster St.  in downtown Durham.