FORT MILL — Surrounded by the smell of fresh peaches and handmade soaps, Fort Mill residents reconnected July 13 during opening day of the town’s first farmer’s market.
The market, to be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays 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, chairman of the Fort Mill Economic Council.
“We felt this was a need,” he said. “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.
Four vendors came out opening day to sell their local goods. Ward hopes the market will have many more additions in the future.
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. The farm grows seven acres of peaches, 25 acres of strawberries and 10 acres of other vegetables, Edwards said.
Because of the wet 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 chairman 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 at the market. She left with homemade soap, fresh cookies and peaches.
“I enjoy supporting local vendors,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what else they bring.”
Fort Mill residents Kevin and Emily Ward also 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. 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.”
Elesha Reimink of Fort Mill 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. 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.
The council also plans to partner with local restaurants to hold demonstrations and classes on healthy eating at future markets, said Louis Roman.
“It’s a great thing that’s happening here,” he said.
To learn more about the market and how to be a vendor, call 803-207-0851.