by David Cecelski
The other day I found a wonderful little meat and produce market in Franklinton, a small town only 25 miles northeast of Raleigh in Franklin County. The Cabin Branch Farm Market occupies an old downtown building that used to be a Dodge/Chrysler dealership. It’s owned and operated by Yarbrough and Shauna Williams, a friendly couple who have a hog farm in Warrenton.
Shauna, a Duke grad, was a TV anchorwoman and had a successful career in big-city broadcast journalism before she settled down on the farm. Yarbrough taught building trades classes at Franklinton High School for 33 years. Two years ago, they opened this little market. They told me that they wanted to provide a retail outlet for their farm and for other small farms, as well as a source of healthy, local food to people in Franklin County.
Most of their meat and produce comes from that part of eastern North Carolina. They get farm fresh eggs from a gentleman in Youngsville. They buy honey from a fellow who works across the road from their store in Franklinton. They get grass-fed lamb, beef, pork, and turkey from several local farmers, including their friends Bob and Ginger Sykes at Turtle Mist Farm, which is also in Franklinton. Their wonderful country sausage–I bought a pound– is made locally, too, using Yarbrough’s recipe with extra sage and red pepper.
They also stock a variety of local specialty products, like Lilly’s Gourmet Maple Butter, made by Nancy Foss in Wake Forest using her Canadian grandmother Lilly’s recipe.
The Williamses knew that it would not be easy to start a new business in these hard economic times. “People thought we were crazy,” Shauna told me. But they own the building, their overhead is low, they believe in the quality of their products—and they have faith in God.
Franklinton’s downtown is suffering, with lots of shuttered windows and empty storefronts. That made the faith and optimism that I saw at the Cabin Branch Farm Market all the more exciting. When you’re there, you get the feeling that this could be the start of something big.