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Farmers Market Changes Could Include Downtown Market on Thursdays Next to Block Party

Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer

Plans are currently in the works to improve and expand the Anderson Copunty Farmers Market which is preparing to open for the new season.

The most subsantial change is a rule change which will allow those who grow fresh produce anywhere in a 50-mile radius of the county to sell goods at the market. The move is a revision of the county's long-time prohibition against anything grown outside the county lines at the market.

Opening the market up bring the county's market closer to being in line with Greenville, Spartanburg, Oconee and other Upstate counties which allow food grown within a 75-mile radius. 

The Anderson County Farmers Market has struggled in recent years as a result of the old guidelines, coupled with an inactive market board and a dwindling group of aging growers which have kept the market going. 

While Saturday markets have remained active during peak season, the Tuesday/Thursday morning markets have not seen similar success. 

An evaluation under way to change those weekday market hours of operation which currently run 8 a.m.-1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Since these moring-hour markets are generally poorly attended by both farmers and citizens, consideration is being given to shifting these hours to accomodate those who work during the day, which includes not only customers but some part-time farmers.

As part of this shift, plans are in the works for a Thursday evening market in the parking lot adjacent to Carolina Wren Park which would operate during the Main Street Program's Downtown Summer Block Party Event, which offers free concerts in the park each Thursday through August.

Pairing the Farmers Market with this well-established event is something expected to bring even bigger crowds downtown on Thursday evenings.

Other potential changes proposed for the market include serving hot foods, regular entertainment and education activities. Many of these activites previous found a place at the market and were key elements of the Anderson Farm & Food Association which formed a second farmers market downtown in 2011 in an attempt to keep the additional activites alive. 

While the second market no longer exists, the group still exists as a advocate for sustainable and local food. and at least some of the leadership has expressed excitement for a rebooted Anderson Famers Market with a wider range of activities and eased rules on where the food is grown.

While no official has been wiling to go on the record for this developing story, the changes could come quickly once all the arrangements have been finalized. This story is developing.


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