Farmer’s market sprouts in downtown Fort Mill

Special to Fort Mill TimesJuly 15, 2013 

  • Want to go? Fort Mill Farmers Market, 121 Monroe St., Fort Mill, will be 8 a.m.-2 p.m. every Saturday through Oct. 26.

— Surrounded by the smell of fresh peaches and handmade soaps, Fort Mill residents reconnected Saturday at the town’s first Farmer’s Market.

The market, to be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through fall in First Baptist’s parking lot, aims to bring together members of the community and increase support for local businesses, said David Ward, chair of the Fort Mill Economic Council.

“Local people have been looking for this,” he said. “We felt this was a need. We want to have the support of the whole community.”

The market is managed by the council, which started the project in February, in cooperation with the town of Fort Mill. The market is leasing the parking lot from First Baptist.

Saturday, four vendors came out to sell their local goods. Ward said he hopes the market will have many more in the future. “We’re trying to do things for the community from an economic standpoint,” he said.

The first market drew more than 200 customers.

Ward said the market gives people a chance to meet their neighbors. “It’s what your community is all about,” he said.

Springs Farm’s Ron Edwards said he came out to support the town. “The community has supported us for so many years,” he said. “We want to support the community.”

Springs brought fresh corn, tomatoes, peaches and watermelon to Saturday’s market. The farm grows seven acres of peaches, 25 acres of strawberries and 10 acres of other vegetables, Edwards said.

Because of the weather, growing conditions have not been right for okra or blackberries, but Edwards said they hope to bring those to future markets.

The market allows people access to healthy foods, said Rudy Sanders, an Economic Council member and past chair of the Fort Mill History Museum.

He said other markets have been held in the past in different locations.

“I’m excited that green growers are finally returning to Fort Mill,” he said. “It gives people the opportunity to get some high-nutrient vegetables.”

Fort Mill resident Katie O’Brien enjoyed the variety of Saturday’s market. She left with some homemade soap, fresh cookies and peaches.

O’Brien said she has wanted a local market for years.

“I enjoy supporting local vendors,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what else they bring.”

O’Brien also said the market also provides a new social spot to talk with her neighbors.

Fort Mill residents Kevin and Emily Ward came out to support local businesses. Emily said she wants to “encourage local farmers to be successful and stay.”

Kevin said he wants to support the local economy.

The market has already started to boost local businesses, as Sand Creek Soaps representative Kathy Schneider experienced Saturday. By 10 a.m., she had already made a trip home for more handcrafted, natural soap.

“More people are going organic and natural,” she said. “It’s really good for your skin.”

Schneider said she hopes she can make a difference in her town.

“I hope I’m helping (the market),” she said. “It’s about buying local.”

Fort Mill resident Elesha Reimink sold her handmade headbands and bags. Reimink started making jewelry a few years ago as a less expensive way to accessorize, but soon realized she wanted to expand her craft.

“Everybody does (jewelry),” she said.

At Elesha Andrea Designs, people can find handmade scarves, pin cushions and other accessories. Reimink said she recently started working with Indian textiles. “They are really fun and beautiful,” she said.

For her fellow “Walking Dead” fans, Reimink’s zombie-styled pin cushion will soon be available. She also takes custom orders.

Reimink said she hopes the market will help her business grow. She plans to be there a couple times each month.

Dana Boutwell, this year’s Mrs. Strawberry Queen, used the market to promote her platform, children’s cancer. “Cancer is the No. 1 disease killer in children,” Boutwell said.

She supported Cookies for Kids Cancer with fresh-baked goodies. Boutwell’s platform is in honor of Daniel, her friend’s son who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2. He is now 4 years old and is in remission.

“He’s doing really well,” she said.

Members of the Economic Council and officials from the town Fort Mill hope the market continues to grow, reaching a goal of more than 60 vendors, said Kimberly Starnes, the town’s media coordinator.

They also plan to partner with local restaurants to hold demonstrations and classes on healthy eating at future markets, said marker coordinator Louis Roman.

“It’s a great thing that’s happening here,” he said.

So far, the market’s been a huge success.

“We’ve heard so many positive things from people today,” Starnes said. “They go home with good memories and something good to eat.”

To learn more about the market and how to be a vendor, call 803-207-0851 or email louis.fortmillmagazine@gmail.com.

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