Many friendships have taken root at farmers market

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By 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 21, the Aiken County Farmers Market on Williamsburg Street was buzzing with activity.

Katherine Sheppard bags fresh flowers for a customer at the AIken County Farmers Market.  Charmain Z. Brackett/Correspondent
Charmain Z. Brackett/Correspondent
Katherine Sheppard bags fresh flowers for a customer at the AIken County Farmers Market.

"It's been very busy," said Hollie Gartman, who has operated a stall at the market for 20 years.

Already three hours into her day, Mrs. Gartman was running low on produce.

"I had corn; it's gone. I had six bushels of tomatoes and they are almost gone," she said.

Fortunately, her 15-acre farm is not too far from the market, and fresh produce was on the way.

"My husband is out picking," she told her customers.

The outdoor market has been in operation since 1951, and it's a popular spot with many loyal customers.

"I come every Saturday. There's Jersey milk over there; organic eggs, and the squash lady (Mrs. Gartman)," said Nina Nidiffer, of Graniteville, as she pointed to different spots at the market.

The Jersey milk is the best, she said. "The chocolate is like drinking melted chocolate ice cream."

Susan Scherphorn is another regular customer who stocks up at the market every week.

She was buying potatoes, onions and other vegetables for a vegetable grill later in the day.

"I love to support my local farmers, and the food is fresh," she said. "I think it's important to buy locally. I'm a big proponent of that."

Not only is the farmers market a good place for fresh fruit, vegetables and other foods, it's a social center where vendors and customers become friends.

Katherine Sheppard has had a booth at the market for the past 30 summers.

She worked for the Aiken County school system when she first opened her booth. At the time, they paid employees only nine months out of the year.

"I needed to pay my light bill," she said.

When the school system changed its pay system, Mrs. Sheppard stayed on at the market.

"I was addicted by then," she said.

On this particular Saturday she had only a few items to sell:

"I don't have much today, just some cucumbers and squash, but I thought my friends will miss me if I stay home."


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