Urban Farms and Community Gardens Blossom in the Triangle


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Families can grow food for free in one of plots at Camden Street Learning Garden.

Photo courtesy of Camden Street Learning Garden

As families search for ways to eat healthy, buy local and save on groceries, it’s no surprise that community gardens and urban farms are blooming in the Triangle. Whether you’re looking for places to buy fresh produce or grow your own, here are a few gardens and farms that prove city-based agriculture is more than a passing trend.

Raleigh City Farm

With a 1-acre site in the heart of downtown, Raleigh City Farm was one of the first urban farms in the Triangle when it was founded in 2011.

“It’s so visible, and it’s close to downtown,” says Rebekah Beck, the farm’s general manager. “You can come see farming in different phases.” There are farmers producing off the land and dirt, hydroponic growers working in a greenhouse, and there’s also a food hub. The hub aggregates produce from different farms in the Piedmont for use in local restaurants and through a community-supported agriculture program and at farmers markets.

The nonprofit farm works to “re-connect city-dwellers with food production,” so volunteering is encouraged. Every Wednesday from April through October, the farm hosts Wine+Weeds, a weekly weeding party from 6 to 7 p.m. Check the farm’s website for additional special events and programming. 800 N. Blount St., Raleigh; 919-322-9596

Good Hope Farm

In January 2008, the Town of Cary bought 46 acres, part of which included the historic A.M. Howard Farm, built in the early 1910s.

“It’s rather unique for a local government to purchase a farm, but we have a strong commitment to historic preservation as well as preserved open space,” says Sarah Justice, environmental outreach program coordinator with the Town of Cary.

The 29-acre property, renamed Good Hope Farm, includes a homestead and several outbuildings, including two tobacco barns. The day-to-day operation of the farm is managed by the Piedmont Conservation Council through an eight-year lease, and the council is currently seeking farmers who want to sublease .5- to 2-acre plots.

This spring will mark the first growing season for the town.

“We are at the very beginning of the project, but we are seeking volunteers, and we do workshops as well,” Justice says.

For information about community outreach opportunities, visit the Town of Cary website and search for “Good Hope Farm." 1580 Morrisville Carpenter Road, Cary; 919-469-4061.

Carpenter Park Community Garden

Cary’s 16-acre Carpenter Park, which opened in 2016, is across the street from Good Hope Farm and includes the typical family-friendly features you would expect from a park such as a playground, walking trails, a basketball court and a picnic area, but it’s also home to a community garden.

“The garden has 50 plots that are rented and tended by community members,” Justice says. In addition to the leased plots, about one-third of the garden has open beds reserved for educational opportunities, volunteering and group projects.

“There are ongoing opportunities for people to learn about gardening and also take home fruits and vegetables when they come and work,” Justice says. 4420 Louis Stephens Drive, Cary; 919-469-4061.

LL Urban Farms

In 2012, Glen and Barbara Lang, and Jim and Debbie Loy bought a .99 acres on Holly Springs Road to build LL Urban Farms.

“The first thing we did was build a greenhouse for lettuce,” Glen Lang says. “Jim and I had never built anything, but we were able to learn by [looking at] YouTube videos, and so we built our first greenhouse that way,” Lang says. “And we call ourselves, affectionately, YouTube farmers.”

They taught themselves hydroponic farming, and product demand soon led to more greenhouses for lettuce and tomatoes. About half of this produce is sold to Whole Foods and is also available via home-delivery subscriptions for businesses such as The Produce Box and Papa Spuds. In 2014, the owners also added a barn and farm stand.

“We thought we were going to sell produce, but it turns out, people wanted more things,” Lang says. “We go down every Friday to the coast and pick up a couple hundred pounds of fresh seafood.”

In addition to seafood, the farm stand also sells pork, beef, eggs, honey, cheeses, milk, fresh fruit, produce, bread and more. Best of all, it’s all locally grown or made.

It’s not uncommon for school groups or home-schoolers to request tours to learn about hydroponic farming.

“The kids also love coming to see us because we have 20 chickens,” Lang says.

There are monthly tastings to allow patrons to try new products. Visit the LL Urban Farms website for more information about special events. 8225 Holly Springs Road, Raleigh; 919-234-7538.

Camden Street Learning Garden

In June 2014, the Camden Street Learning Garden was born in southeast Raleigh with the purchase of several vacant lots by the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, a hunger-relief organization in the Triangle.

“Since then, we’ve transformed it into a space where there are community growing plots, and people can grow food for free,” says Katie Murray, urban agriculture programs manager for the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Raleigh.

Through its Seed to Supper program, a six-week gardening course, the organization is working to educate and teach community members.

“For families that are experiencing some level of food insecurity, we provide them with the training and the tools and all the supplies they need to start their own garden on our site,” Murray says.

In addition to garden plots, the Camden garden site has a greenhouse, rain-harvesting system, indoor teaching kitchen, two beehives, a food forest with perennials such as fruit trees, and culinary and medicinal herbs.

In addition to adult programs, the Camden Street Learning Garden also offers after-school programs and opportunities to volunteer. 315 Camden St., Raleigh; 919-469-4301.

Myra Wright is the web editor for Carolina Parent and Piedmont Parent. She frequently writes about North Carolina travel destinations.

 

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August 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
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June 30-August 12; 8:30 a.m.– 5:00 p.m. Come to Historic Yates Mill to see a new temporary exhibit, Rich in the Rare, on loan from the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. This...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Shop antiques, crafts and art, and enjoy food trucks at this artisan and vintage market in downtown Cary.

Cost: Free

Where:
Fidelity Bank Parking Lot
100 W. Chatham St.
Cary, NC  27511
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Contact Name: Leslie & Jessica
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Children make treasured memories while increasing their knowledge of plants and animals. Ages 7-10. Register online.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Join staff and volunteers from the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society (CHAOS) and Raleigh Astronomy Club (RAC) for a free skywatching...

Cost: Free

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Dorothea Dix Park
2105 Umstead Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Examine “Shinrin-yoku," a Japanese healing technique that "takes in the forest atmosphere." Visit a natural area in the park and walk in a relaxed way to receive calming,...

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Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Contact Name: Rebecca Cope
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Squish, touch and feel your way through center-based activities to explore the senses.  Make a smelly painting and splash in a sink/float bucket. Ages 18 months-3 years with an...

Cost: $2/child

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Enjoy a family-friendly movie. See the website for the movie title. Showings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Observe the 41st anniversary of Elvis' passing by seeing two tribute bands, Scot Bruce and The Fab Four, face off in an adrenaline-pumping musical showdown. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $35-$65

Where:
Fletcher Opera Theater
2 E South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
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Meet a favorite princess or superhero from 11 a.m.-noon and 1-2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Learn froggy fun facts through trivia games and activities. Discover the differences and similarities between frogs and toads. All ages with adult. Registration required online. Meet...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Weekly basic skills cooking class for children aged 5-10 at Whole Foods North Raleigh.  This free class meets each Tuesday at 4 p.m. and is offered by registering in advance...

Cost: Free

Where:
Whole Foods Market (North Raleigh)
8710 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Take the family for Kids Night at Chick-Fil-A in Garner. Enjoy a free indoor playspace, face painting and balloon twisting with Mimi the Clown. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Chick-Fil-A
2720 Timber Dr.
Garner, NC  27529
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Sponsor: The MelodyMaker Entertainment
Telephone: (919)639-9328
Contact Name: Melody Scruggs
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Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Read "Froggie Babies" by Suzanne Farrior and make a froggy craft. Practice jumping skills, learn to "ribbitt," and examine the differences between the frogs and toads. Ages...

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
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See Happy Dan perform magic, comedy and more.

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Renaissance Centre
405 Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Enjoy a Build-A-Bear activity, storytime, games and painting from 11 a.m.-noon and 1-2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Expand your knowledge of our local flora and fauna by exploring a different area of the park each month. Join park staff as they "nerd out" over amphibians, birds, insects, spiders, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Take your own poles or borrow one from the park through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic instruction are...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Take your own poles or borrow one from the park through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Celebrate National Tell a Joke Day by sharing some jokes with the park community. Meet in the Exhibit Hall. Drop-in program. All ages. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Contact Name: Rebecca Cope
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Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
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Enjoy an easy-paced and stroller-friendly walk along the greenway. Suggested for ages 3 and younger with parent. Register online. Choose course #219872.

Cost: Free

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2761
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Ages 7-12 enjoy fashion and design activities from 11 a.m.-noon.; ages 13-18 enjoy the same activities from 1-2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
4325 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Celebrate Raleigh's creativity under the beautiful lights and cobblestone streets of City Market. Find locally-made goods and enjoy a night filled with music and entertainment with over 30...

Cost: Free

Where:
City Market
306 Parham St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Raleigh Night Market
Contact Name: Sara Buxton
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

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A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

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Experience the the excitement of wheelchair basketball in preparations for August Madness. Whether your team is practicing for August Madness or you're looking for a fun Friday activity, all...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Campus YMCA 'Cage' Court
304 Blackwell Street
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Bridge II Sports
Telephone: 18668802742 x12
Contact Name: Katharine Doyle
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Take a walk with a park naturalist to explore the woods and fields at this special time of day.  Register online.

Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson Nature Preserve staff
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See the PG-rated movie under the stars at Booth Amphitheatre. After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother,and her friend to space in order to...

Cost: $5 ages 13 and older. Free for ages 12 and younger.

Where:
Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27518
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Kindergarten students entering the traditional school calendar practice a lunch line, get moving at recess, hop on a school bus and more.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Take a walk in the woods and discover the animals and plants that call the park home. Help collect data for our Natural Resource Inventory Database and other citizen science projects. All...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Young entrepreneurs, ages 6 -14, have an opportunity to sell their products or services to the general public. Participants can keep any profits from sales they make at the fair and will earn cash...

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Triangle Children's Business Fair
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Enjoy a celebration of products, services and resources for families featuring local organizations focusing on education, health and wellness, safety, special needs, child care and more....

Cost: Free

Where:
JD Lewis Multipurpose Center
2245 Garner Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Sunshine Family Expos
Telephone: 813-463-2712
Contact Name: Melinda Perez

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Enjoy live entertainment, hands-on projects and gallery hunts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy an interactive dance story and craft time. Ages 3-7. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Graceful Expressions Dance Education
312 W. Chatham St., #103
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: Graceful Expressions Dance Education
Telephone: 191-975-86003
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Search for snakes, salamanders, turtles and more. Ages 10-13. Register online.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Children's booksellers read their favorite picture books. All ages.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Website »

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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn more about pollinators during this family friendly event. Sample and buy local honey and honey-based products.

Cost: Free

Where:
State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Website »

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Take the family for treats, music, art and more. See a special exhibit showcasing the work of Artspace's talented young artists.

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace
201 E. Davie St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Stop by a discovery table to learn fun about the animals that live in Crowder Pond. All ages. Registration required. The display table is located at the Upper Playground.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Explore how bees pollinate flowers and help gardens grow. Discover how bee hives work and learn the ways that bee-keepers have historically housed and cared for their hives. All...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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See the PG-rated movie "Jurassic Park," part of the City of Raleigh's Movies by Moonlight series. Also enjoy food trucks. Register online....

Cost: Free

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park Flowers Field
2105 Umstead Dr.
Raleigh, NC
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh
Telephone: 919-996-6688
Contact Name: Joseph Voska
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