A Farm Fresh Troutman Treasure - David's Market
Article by Kristie Darling
Pictured: Melissa, David, Chris
David's Market is a true gem in Troutman—and summer is its season to shine!
“I wish I lived near you to buy my fruits and vegetables,” posted Ben J. on Facebook the other day. “They don't look this good at my grocery store…” And about how the tomatoes grow, Tim O. said, “Greenhouse, in the dirt! The roof is off now! I had a tomato sandwich last night, and it was so good!!!”
Rave reviews and inquiries appear on Facebook for David all the time—friendly posts in response to his fun, informative FB Live segments. People are checking in and showing up because of his quality produce and his personal, customer service. David’s fabulous story is making the rounds among locals who appreciate his home-grown vegetables, fruits, and plants, people looking for chicks, ducklings, and quail to raise themselves, or shoppers who want to buy fresh eggs, local jams, jellies, butters, and their local honey that’s produced by friend John Furr out Sharon School Road.
Marketing The Market
David’s personality shows up in his videos…he tells you what’s happening at the Market, shows you what’s new, describes what’s coming in, and lets you know when you can stop by. “David is a funny guy…he’s a joker,” said his mom, Melissa Bunting. “He got the Laughy-Taffy and Class Comedian awards in school and has fun with everything he’s doing here. He loves people. It’s no wonder when someone sees his videos or meets him when he’s working at Burritos & Ribs several nights a week, they want to stop by in person and pick up groceries for supper.”
David’s Market, for many around town, is the easiest stop on the way home.
David Meadows has been digging in the dirt since he was six years old. He’s now an entrepreneur, in business with his mom and farmer and family friend, Chris Arthurs.
"Years ago, I was planting tomatoes in the flower bed in front of the house,” said Melissa. “Then, he was digging and planting tomatoes…and beans and squash. He just took to it…he really liked it.” David kept on working in the garden.
“When I tilled up the side yard for him, he planted more, learned more…so that meant we should add more rows,” Melissa continued. “When David took it all over, he was tiling with his great-great-grandparents’ tiller…that makes me smile. It was something different for him to do so we kept it up until we were growing more than we needed. And here we are today!”
What's In StoreOver the last few years, with his mom’s dedication, guidance, and support and a chance meeting with Chris at the Troutman Farmer’s Market a couple years ago, David has grown his enterprise from just a card table laid out with tomatoes, squash, and corn in the front yard, to today’s spread that now includes probably the last of the season’s strawberries, plus okra, broccoli, greens, bell peppers in bright colors, jalapeños, potatoes, carrots, beans, cabbage, peaches, and a local favorite, heirloom Cherokee purple tomatoes—perfect for the ultimate juicy sandwich!
David has been harvesting more kinds of squash than most people even know exist—beautiful green and yellow zephyrs, fat grillers, round black balls, 8-balls, one-balls, fancy patty pans. David grows three types of cucumbers—for pickles, for slicing, and sweet white cukes. “In another month or so, everything we sell will be produce we’ve grown ourselves, right here in Troutman,” David said. “We’re bringing in some fruits and vegetables that we don’t have enough of, like melons.”
David and Chris meeting up was serendipitous. Chris owns a small farm nearby, all the farm equipment they need, plus he has years of farming experience under his belt. David brings a rising high school senior’s smarts, a love of the land, and a strong work ethic to help grow this small business. They work the farm together—Chris coaches David, David helps Chris…it’s a win-win. During his junior year, David was an officer of FFA at South Iredell, and he plans to continue with the organization, most likely in a leadership role, again.
It's A Family Affair
Melissa has been a single mom since her son was three. Chris says that Melissa is a huge part of the success behind David’s Market. “She does a whole lot more than keep the books” Chris explained. “David is the smart, enterprising young man he is today because of his mother’s enthusiasm and support, no doubt about it.”
“I’m sentimental—everything about this goes back to my great-grandparents who originally lived on this land and built the old brick house beside us,” Melissa shared. “This side yard we’re on today used to be a watermelon field and David uses his great-grandfather’s tiller even today. I fuss at those boys all the time because I’m something of a neat nick, but in the end, it all comes together with lots of hands-on hard work from each of us.”
Melissa’s mom and bonus dad, Jane and John Babela, have been watching David discover his passion for many years. They’re proud to have another farmer in the family working at the homeplace. Many folks around town know David’s great-grandmother, Ann Sims, former Troutman town clerk. “After she retired, Nana worked for Jim Sappenfield and then Joe Troutman at the funeral home,” Melissa says. “She still says, ‘if they need me, I can still come in to help out.’”
Melissa, David, and Chris would like to expand the Market and all that happens here. “I’d love to see this become a hang-out, you know, where folks can sit around picnic tables and visit, enjoy an iced tea,” she said, “maybe have some live music once in a while…like old country stores used to do.” Plans for improvements are in the making, like adding a larger building, more room for produce under a bigger canopy, better driveways, more parking. “We’ve been blessed in the past with people coming by to help, to volunteer as we started on new projects,” Melissa shared. “We are a work in progress, and we’re grateful for everyone’s help over the years. We’ve got big plans!”
David's Business Plan
What They're Saying
Another couple comments on Facebook that tell the story from a customer’s point of view… “OMG, I need eggs this week!” and “I get paid Friday, what’s y’all hours?” People plan their shopping at David’s Market…it’s easy and well worth the trip.
David’s Market is open Tuesday to Friday, 4:00 to 7:30. “And, if those times don’t work for you, we can pre-measure items and leave them out to pick up.” David said. “We also set up a satellite location on Thursday mornings in Conover behind Catawba Hospital and Saturday mornings in Conover at the post office.”
741 South Main Street