When organizers began planning the Evans Towne Farmers Market last year, they didn’t think it would receive the response it has. The market was slated to run from March through June but has been extended to Oct. 24.
“We’re grateful that everything came together to allow us to extend the market for a full season,” said Kim Hines, director of Augusta Locally Grown, the organization under which the Evans Towne Farmers Market operates. “We also know this puts the challenge on us to really step it up.”
The market, which is held every Thursday from 4:30-7 p.m. at the park behind the Columbia County Library, includes a variety of local products by area vendors. There is fresh dairy, meats, vegetables and fruit. Handcrafted artisan booths are also set up.
“We have been selling on Augusta Locally Grown for about two years or so as a ‘grower,’ so we have been kept in the loop about the possibility of a market opening up in Evans since the beginning,” said Kathryn Filipiak, owner of Washington, Ga.-based Southern Scratch, which sells home-baked desserts. “We weren’t sure about joining at first just because of the distance and the day of the week, but several of our good friends were setting up.
“There is such camaraderie between the local vendors here, so honestly, it just kind of felt like we would miss out on the party if we didn’t join,” she added.
Because Filipiak is seven months pregnant, Southern Scratch won’t return to the market until September or early October.
“I am so glad they’ve extended the season through October, although I hate having to miss the fun for a few months,” she said.
Now that the logistics of the Evans Towne Farmers Market are in place, Hines said the next four months will be spent making the market more vibrant and active.
“We’ll have more farmers, more food vendors and more cooking demos,” she said. “We also plan to incorporate a children’s fitness activity each week.”
The extension means that the community “will be able to experience the full range of seasonal varieties that are grown locally,” added Hines. “Summer squash, zucchini, beans and sweet basil just showed up last week. Blueberries, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and okra are all just a few weeks away. Melons and corn come a little later. Pomegranates, paw paws, persimmons, pears and maybe even locally-grown lemons will all make their way to the Evans Towne Farmers Market eventually.”
In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, Hines plans to add educational activities.
“Education is a large part of our long-term mission,” she said. “Discovery, hands-on activities and getting to know farmers as trusted friends – all this helps to make food fun and healthy again.”