By David Meade
The Williamston Farmers Market has added another attraction for the downtown area and now in its second season, word is beginning to spread about the offering of local produce and other handmade items. Farmers Market Orgnizer Rebecca McKinney said, “As the season unfolds, more vendors are coming to the market and more people are attending each week. We have a growing number of repeat customers.”
McKinney said because the market is on Thursday evenings, which differs from most others, vendors from other markets are coming.
“Our vendors are pleased with their sales and some of them tell us that they feel like they do better at our market than at some of the larger markets in our area. Local residents are beginning to look forward to the market each week.”
The first year the market was held on Saturday mornings and in conjunction with other festivals and events.
“If we had continued to operate on Saturday mornings, we wouldn’t have been able to attract such a great array of vendors; many already attend one or two other markets a week,” McKinney said.
Vendors at the market vary from week to week, but regular offerings include: beef, pork, goat milk and cheese, baked goods, jams, eggs, mushrooms, honey, soap, natural and locally made personal care products, smoked olive oil, vegetables, fruit, plants, candles (made from upcycled bottles), cold drinks (tea and rosemary lemonade), and dog treats.
“All of the vendors love the park setting and really enjoy talking to each other and purchasing each other’s products,” McKinney said.
The Palmetto Economic Area Development group initiated the market last year.
“I became involved because supporting local farms and food is my passion. The fruits and vegetables at local farmers markets are much fresher than those in the grocery store, where they might have been picked weeks before you purchase them,” McKinney said. “The shorter the time between harvesting and eating the fruits and vegetables, the more nutritious they are.”
When products are purchased at a farmers market, that money stays in the local economy.
“As food prices increase – because of transportation costs and water shortages in areas like California – our local farmers will ensure that we have access to fresh and reasonably-priced food,” McKinney said. “At our market, all of the products are locally grown or produced, and most of the vegetables are grown without the use of pesticides. Our beef and pork are pasture-raised.”
McKinney said she hopes to see the local farmers market expand.
“We’d love to have food trucks at the market more often. In terms of products, we’d like to have more fruit growers, a seafood vendor, and farmers with vegetables early in the season (May).
McKinney is also the organizer of The Homesteading Festival which will again be held in Williamston later this year. The festival, which had a large number of vendors and visitors, will be held on Saturday, October 4.
“We already are receiving applications from vendors and planning classes. We’re excited about the new partnership with the Palmetto Cultural Arts Center to produce this event.”
The Palmetto Farmers Market is held at Williamston’s Mineral Spring Park every Thursday from 4-7 p.m., through October 23.