Aiken, S.C. –Dozens of Aiken area small businesses chart economic growth with a little help from people who want to eat clean.
In a narrow ally, you can find buyers and sellers who want to eat fresh. While the trade can keep some healthy, it keeps others in business.
Carolyn Cushman is one of 40 vendors cashing in on the fresh experience.
“Oh Lord! You don’t know how long they’ve been in the grocery store and everything. This is coming fresh from the farm. You can’t get no fresher than that,” she said.
Cushman sold fresh brown eggs at three dollars a dozen at the farmer’s market.
And Sarah Hott offers sweet grass hand woven into an array of things people can utilize, such as clock holders and baskets.
On Thursday nights this summer in Aiken, you can catch local farmers in The Alley between Laurens and Newberry Streets downtown.
Happy Earth Farm owners Steve and Karen Fennell have been participating in The Alley since it started two years ago.
“You’ll probably spend a little bit more here, but you’re getting so much more value because the produces is so fresh, picked either last night or today. So, you’re getting better value because it will last longer. It will save longer in your refrigerator than the grocery store,” Karen Fennell said.
Fruits, vegetables, meats and other home goods are offered at the market. Some foods are organic and all are grown by local farmers who depend on the community to keep their businesses going.
Skyland Farms owner JB Holston comes from Williston to sell his goods.
“I offer squash, cucumbers, cabbage, kale, and corn,” he said while showing off the foods.
In turn, Tourism Director Jenny Burghardt said downtown Aiken profits.
“More so the restaurants. They love that people are here on a regular basis on Thursday nights,” she said.
Fennell specializes in all organic foods. She warns that some vendors resale, so buyers should beware.
She added, “The challenge is to educate the public to know that they need to ask questions. Did you grow this on your farm? Are you organic? What practices do you use? And really be an informed consumer because sometimes these Farmer’s Markets can be a little bit like the Wild West.”
Everything in The Alley is certified South Carolina Grown, so you can expect to eat local when you buy.
There will also be different performers each week.