Farmers markets are gearing up for what is predicted to be a great season for locally grown crops.
"We just expect a big year this year," said Tom Neville, the manager for the Augusta Farmers Market off Fourth Street near the Augusta Fairgrounds. "I can't remember the last time we had this much rain. We're just tickled about it."
Mr. Neville said most sellers should arrive at the market by May 15 and sell until about Labor Day. He said tenants set their own hours, but the market is open during the warmer season from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays. He said people also sell on Sundays, usually after church.
Augusta's Saturday Market on the River, offering produce, beef, crafts and entertainment for adults and children each Saturday through August 8, opens today from 8 a.m. to noon at the Eighth Street plaza, said Jessica Fuselier, the event's coordinator.
Aiken has a market off Williamsburg Street between Park and Richland avenues. In a week or so, the Aiken market will start its extended schedule, operating Monday-Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or until the farmers sell out. The market is more than 50 years old.
Jackson, another Aiken County city, will start its first farmers market this year.
"We do not have a grocery store in the Jackson area," said Mayor Todd Etheredge, noting that two grocery stores have closed after the owners died. Residents now have to drive more than 10 miles to a grocery store in North Augusta or Aiken. The mayor said the market will be open Fridays starting in May at the Jackson Municipal Complex, 104 Main St.
In North Augusta, there's Gurosiks Berry Plantation off Briggs Road.
Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org
AIKEN FARMERS MARKET: (803) 642-7761
AUGUSTA FARMERS MARKET: (706) 721-3004
GUROSIKS BERRY PLANTATION: (803) 278-0594
JACKSON FARMERS MARKET: (803) 471-2228