Monday, November 12, 2012

Fall at the Farmers' Market

When you ride through the town of Hampton County, it is hard to miss the Hampton County Farmers’ Market.  Three years ago, it was just a vacant field where farmers could drive in and set up tables.  Now, there’s great signage, a paved parking path, covered seating areas (modest, but serviceable), a building that serves as a farming museum, running water, electricity for the fans and lights, Port-a-Lets, and more.  One vendor builds outdoor furniture and through a contract with the market, created permanent tables for displaying the food.  Another partnership with the local agriculture organization allowed for an attractive small display building to be added to the property.  A construction class from the high school has also built a deck around the farming museum building, providing more seating for various forms of entertainment.  It’s turning into the “community gathering place” that they want it to be. 

The board continues to make improvements, thanks in part to past funding from the Winthrop Family Fund.  Additional funding is provided through local financial supporters, including Ag South and Farm Bureau, and by the $5 per market day fee that is required of all vendors.  The plan is for the market to be open for 5 months as they found there was little interest from vendors or customers to continue past the end of October.  The board has tracked average daily customers, marking an increase from 62 in 2009 to 99 in 2012. With modest funding, the well-run Hampton County Farmers’ Market has made a remarkable impact, growing from the seeds of a vacant lot into a vibrant community centerpiece.

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