Friday, April 3, 2009

The Sumter Growers' Market - Where Did It Go?

Last year at this time I was spending every Saturday morning standing in a dusty field off of CR 48 - talking for hours. I visited with the local growers who came to sell at our trial growers market, and with all of the loyal locavores who were in search of local foods. It was a great spring and I met so many great people! We had musicians playing for free, great fresh kettle corn and a handful of skilled growers.

We closed the market and didn't open again for several reasons. First and most important, there were not enough local growers willing to sell at the market. Second, we needed funding, for a market manager (I love my job but couldn't work every Saturday at the market), insurance, etc.

I believe that we could have a viable local market in Sumter County. Many people respected that we were sticking to our local growers concept but it makes it harder to field enough vendors. Our rules were that the produce or plants had to be grown within 100 miles of Bushnell, and the grower or person who knew how the product was grown was to be the seller. Less than 10% of the vendors could be arts and crafts or products other than plants and produce. The reasons for these rules are to develop relationships between people and their food, to develop a community around those who grow our food.

Are you a person who might be interested in growing for a market? If so, we would love to help you. If there are enough of you out there, maybe the Sumter Growers' Market could come out of hiatus for a new season!


  1. Dear Ms. Kelly,

    Have you given any thought to introducing a farmers' market to Center Hill. The downtown area would make a great backdrop for an open air market. Would you consider having organic/ earth friendly vendors who sold organic cotton t-shirts, made soaps, etc. to the market? I think that you would get support from local growers from Center Hill, who might not otherwise have transportation to such a venue. It would be great for the local growers here and could help local economy.



  2. Hi Holly -

    I do think Center Hill would be a great place aesthetically - the question would be could you build up enough traffic to support the vendors? Lots of traffic on Mondays of course -

    In our last market we allowed 10% of the product sold to be non-edible - so organic cotton, soaps, etc. would be great.

    But I agree, Center Hill has so much character and could be a great backdrop for a market or any outdoor venture!

  3. Maybe some growers will want to seel their goods @ this event!

    Come join us in renting your space to sell your wares or buying merchandise April 25th from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm @ wildwood High School parking lot to benefit WHS 2009 Project Graduation. Sell your plants, veggies, baked goods or what you have. Space rental is $10.00. For more info or to rent your space call Terri @ 352-643-0960