The last Charleston Farmers Market of the year is always bittersweet for vendors.
On one hand, they look forward to a little time off — waking up at 3:30 a.m. to get booths ready for the 8 a.m. market opening can get exhausting. Yet many also will miss the camaraderie of fellow vendors and market-goers.
After all, the market doesn’t start again until the weekend after the Bridge Run in early April.
“I hate to see it go away,” said Devonne Howard, a produce vendor, “but at some point, we look forward to a little break. Who doesn’t welcome a little rest? By February, we’ll be hot and heavy into getting things ready for the spring, anyway.”
Both produce and craft vendors noticed that this weekend’s finale was busier than past weeks. Many agree it was because it was the last until spring combined with people looking for homemade Christmas gifts.
David Howle of Owl’s Nest Plantation, who sells organic produce, said he noticed customers stocking up on items, particularly apples, Brussels sprouts and parsnips. But like Howard, Howle is ready for a break. “After 40 weeks, I’m pretty much toast,” said Howle, who also is a regular vendor at the Mount Pleasant and Daniel Island markets. “This is the best time for the market to come to the end, right before Christmas.”
Sean Murray, 35, of Summerville is a regular shopper at the Charleston Farmers Market and wasn’t about to miss the last one. He and his son, Ethan, stopped at the Green Grocer for eggs and milk, the latter of which was sold out.
While Murray will miss the routine, he’s not worried about getting local produce over the winter months. Like some avid locavores, Murray has started his own garden and will head to a market at Wesley United Methodist Church for other items.
In fact, while other regularly-scheduled farmers markets in the area stopped in September and October, two smaller markets will continue at Roper Hospital and the Medical University of South Carolina. The produce-only markets will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with Roper’s on Wednesdays and MUSC’s on Fridays.
Meanwhile, Green Grocer’s Celeste Albers said she bridges the gap between Christmas and spring by taking eggs and milk to local retailers, including Wildflower Pastries, the Glass Onion, Ted’s Butcherblock and Boone Hall Market.
Ken Melton of Lowland Farms still had a bountiful supply of broccoli, turnips, greens and carrots, the latter in five different color varieties, and was confident that he could still sell his produce to restaurants.
And while Pamela Scott at the Tazza Beverages and Charleston Coffee Roasters booth was looking forward to a break, she says she’ll miss the market.
“This is our social life. The vendors and many regulars become your family and friends. So yeah, we’ll miss them.”