The opening day of the Evans Towne Farmers Market saw a great turnout, and organizers hope the county continues to support the local vendors, who are gearing up for their second season.
“We were very pleased with the turnout on opening day,” said Kim Hines, director of Augusta Locally Grown which organizes the weekly Evans market. “Most of our farmers sold out, which goes to show that the demand for local, seasonal, fresh food is quite high in our community.”
Hines said she isn’t surprised at all at the response, as Columbia County is “very health conscious overall” and that “eating locally and seasonally is simply a natural extension of that lifestyle.”
Since it is still early in the growing season, the market is light on local vegetables and fruits in March and early April. However, as the weeks progress, more and more farmers will participate and more produce will be available for sale.
“Eating seasonally is like that,” said Hines. “It’s always changing; always something new to try.”
Visitors to this year’s market, which is held every Thursday evening from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the park area behind the Columbia County Library, can expect the addition of several free educational booths, mostly run by volunteers and student interns. Additionally, the Kid’s Market Passport Program hopes to engage children in trying new foods.
“On opening day, the theme was rainbow carrots. The kids each made their own mini salad with carrots, parsley, dried fig, a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Dijon,” said Hines. “I know that sounds a bit ambitious for kid food, but from what I could tell, all of them enjoyed making it and almost all of them enjoyed eating it, too!”
Visitors will also be introduced to a “Grow Your Own” tent this year, which will feature a different local vegetable or hobby farmer who will share his or her food-growing expertise.
“It is our mission as a nonprofit organization to help connect beginner growers to as many resources as possible,” explained Hines. “Around here, we have to grow farmers and gardeners before we can grow farmers markets.”
The market also features cooking demonstrations run by local chefs and others who just love to cook. Over time, plans are to incorporate a backyard growers’ tent where very small-scale growers can sell their extra vegetables in partnership with others like them.
Individuals interested in becoming a weekly sponsor of the market – which is just $65 – can contact Hines through the market website at www.evanstownefarmersmarket.com.
Sponsorship is a “great way for any start-up business to gain exposure in our county while selling their goods and services,” said Hines.
“My biggest hope is that the Columbia County community will continue to support the market throughout our eight-month season,” she said. “The more consistent and loyal our customer base gets, the more farmers will be convinced to join and stay with our market. Local farmers who grow in sustainable, natural ways are too few in number in our region. We have to show them that the Evans Towne Farmers Market is worth their while.
“We’re always looking for ways to keep the market fresh and fun,” added Hines. “Come throw a Frisbee, take your dog for a walk or bring a checker board. It’s a gorgeous time of year to be outside. We hope that the farmers market acts as a catalyst for more together time over all, even if veggies aren’t your thing.”