ROCKINGHAM — Richard Lunceford discovered his passion for cooking as a young child.
“When I was 10 years old my mom and dad both worked in the mill,” Lunceford said. “I’d have dinner on the table when they got home every day from work. It didn’t make any difference what I’d cook, they’d eat it.”
Working around the kitchen eventually led Lunceford to develop another passion for baking. Lunceford, a retiree who worked with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office for 16 1/2 years, now sells his baked goods every week at the Rockingham Farmer’s Market.
Lunceford and his wife, Valeria, operate a booth at the market. Richard offers a wide selection of treats including cookies, peanut candies and specialty cakes. Valeria sells knitted goods, including several kitchen products — as well as protective masks to be worn during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The couple got involved with the farmer’s market after attending an informational meeting three years ago. Their booth now makes regular appearances at the Rockingham market, and they also sell their goods at some craft shows.
Richard’s favorite part about the business is socializing with patrons.
“I get to talk to people. I like to talk to people,” he said. “I try to tell them, ‘Please try it, and if you don’t like it or there’s something wrong with it, see me next time or tell me about it and I’ll give you your money back.’”
The Luncefords’ booth is one of about seven vendors that make routine appearances at the farmer’s market. The bevy of products those vendors offer includes homemade lighthouses, plants, produce, floral arrangements, honey, baked goods and knitted products.
On Saturdays, the market is set up at Harrington Square in downtown Rockingham from 8 a.m. to noon. The market also operates from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Tuesday in front of the Richmond County Health Department Building.
Ashley Blake, who helps her husband, Josh manage the market’s operations, said business has been picking up in recent weeks.
“More people are starting to learn about the market,” she said.
Blake said restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 crisis haven’t caused much trouble for the market’s operations.
“We had the social distancing in place when we needed it according to the market guidelines,” Blake said. “Now we just have to use safety. The customers are good about it. They hear about it in the news. If they come up and someone’s at the table, they usually stand back and wait.”
Reach Brandon Tester at [email protected] or 910-817-2671. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester