Like any other homegrown crop, sometimes a farmers market just dies on the vine.
The Goose Creek market last week canceled the rest of its season because of lack of participation. Customers dwindled. Farmers dropped out until the lone remaining farmer this week told city officials it just wasn't worth it to set up. And without a farmer selling produce, you don't have a farmers market, as Barbara Nimocks, the program coordinator, pointed out.
Exactly why it happened is a puzzle. People generally are flocking to farmers markets, wanting to buy local, looking for more nutrition and fresh-grown flavor and wanting to get every penny's worth out of a dollar stretched-thin by the economy.
The two-decade old Charleston Farmers Market is doing "incredibly well," said manager Sarah Cothran, averaging 1,500-2,000 customers per week. More people come each week, it seems, and vendors are calling all year long trying to get booth space, she said.
The long-standing Summerville market is teeming. All of its 62 vendor spaces are filled week in and week out, it is drawing big crowds, and farmers are on a waiting list to get a booth.
"I could use 80-85 spaces right now," said Walter Limehouse, who runs the effort for the town.
In its first season, a small market in the newly created business area of Coosaw Pointe, off Ashley Phosphate and Dorchester roads, has grown from two vendors to six or seven. A farmer and a shrimp vendor sell out week to week, said Michele Leonard of the Coosaw Pointe Business Association.
In the rural area north of Mount Pleasant, the Awendaw farmers market is drawing between 50 and 100 people per week, said Gregory Saxton, town clerk. Roadside stands do a steady business. The North Charleston market just down the road has three farmers and other vendors drawing more than 100 people per week in its 15th year.
The heat and other factors affect the number of people who turn out, but people turn out, said Belinda Swindler, North Charleston senior program coordinator. And it's open Thursdays, the same day the Goose Creek market was open.
All that might be part of the problem. The North Charleston market runs in the popular and visible Park Circle, in the heart of the city. The Goose Creek market operated outside the community center, behind City Hall and out of sight of Highway 52, with only a temporary sign to lure people.
"Nowadays there's farmers markets and roadside stands all over the place. It's not the novelty it once was. The Goose Creek market just kind of fell by the roadside," Nimocks said.
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.