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Farmers market: Growing venture does brisk business
By Sarah L. Smith
Despite the heat, shoppers came early to stock up on vegetables, fruits and plants at the new Parkersville Farmers Market.
Located in the county park off Duncan Road, the market will feature 10 vendors each Wednesday from 3 to 7 p.m. It’s an extension of the farmers market run by the Georgetown County Parks and Recreation Department in Georgetown.
“I think it’s going to work well here. We’ve already had some customers,” said Ronnie Smith of Smith Plants and Vegetables at 2:30 p.m. on opening day.
Paul McCulloch, a recreation specialist at Parks and Recreation, helped organize the new market. Standing in the shade, he watched vendors set up and make early sales.
“If we get even half the number of people who called me this week, we’ll do well,” he said.
The new location is hidden off Highway 17 in the Parkersville community between Pawleys Island and Litchfield. To reach the park, turn off Highway 17 at the Holiday Inn Express. Signs provided by the Pawleys Island-Litchfield Business Association point the way to Duncan Road and the market.
Nancy Joiner’s live music from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s accompanied shoppers picking up cucumbers, corn, peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, jams, honey and Gullah foods.
Customers milling around before 3 p.m. said they came to see what was there, pick up fresher foods and enjoy the lower prices.
“I think the economy has a lot to do with it,” Smith said.
After 3, cars started rolling onto the grassy lawn. McCulloch said the baseball-field-sized space, next to a baseball diamond, would have to hold all the cars.
He’s working with the Department of Transportation to get a permanent sign up near or attached to the Parkersville Park sign so people can find their way more easily. McCulloch expects getting the sign approved will take a week.
First-time vendor Bunny Rodrigues of the Gullah O’oman Museum was setting up shop with her sister’s grandchildren.
“We have sweet potato souffle, red rice, Amish friendship bread and honey,” she said, motioning to her tables filled with food.
Another first-time seller was Connie Miller of Hemingway. There were already two flower sellers out at East Bay, she said, so coming to Parkersville lets her have business to herself.
“It hasn’t been as good because, well look around you, it hasn’t been as good,” he said.
Smith said his business at East Bay Park is doing well because everyone wants to buy local, fresh produce that is cheap.
“When we first started it was slow,” Mary Hayward, another farmer, said. “It’s starting to pick up.”
Other vendors complained of being out in the elements, about weather scaring people away and how East Bay Park is too far off of the beaten path for tourists.
Even if East Bay Park is not a place tourists frequent, folks who live near the new location are enjoying having fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers each Saturday.
“We live close by,” Susan Moore of Georgetown said. “I come because it’s easier to get all of your vegetables at one time.”