Adam Kelly, Editor-in-chief
On Saturdays from May to September, white tents canvas a grassy field with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background. Each tent houses locals with various products to sell, and many stories to tell. Although their backgrounds are different, they come together under one common goal: serving the community.
This is the Travelers Rest Farmers Market.
Located along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, the farmer’s market houses over 70 vendors and farmers every weekend. Not only is it independently-run, but it’s the biggest independent nonprofit in South Carolina. Founded eight years ago, the market is nestled in Travelers Rest, finding a niche in the quaint, but well-known town of the upstate.
Guests do not need to worry about parking, as the lot provides numerous spaces to settle in before entering. The parking lot leads visitors to the market, giving them two directions: the grassy field on the left and shaded pavilion on the right. The venue looks small, but the open space gives enough room for visitors passing by each tent.
On the right, the Travelers Rest Farmers Market team can be found welcoming people with open arms. Merchandise and brochures for the market line the tables, and directors Valerie Richardson and Maranda Williams stand behind them answering questions for vendors and visitors alike.
To the left of the welcome tents is the pavilion, covering several vendors underneath. Although shade is provided on this side, the heat is equally distributed throughout the area. A sign held by metal chains hovers over the front of the awning. Huge, white letters on the sign let visitors know with one glance where they are.
Food vendors are positioned at the end of the tunnel to provide you with nourishment after the short walk through. The next stretch is the grassy field. There are no designated areas; vendors and farmers are distributed evenly tent by tent.
Each one houses a different story to tell.
Donald and Colleen Snow, owners of Providence Farms, wanted an intimate setting to sell their product to the public. “We loved the idea of people being able to walk freely in an open space,” Colleen Snow explained. The Snows primarily raise forage fed black angus beef, heritage breed pork and chickens for eggs to resource restaurants in Travelers Rest and Greenville.
Colleen Snow smiled eagerly as she talked about her connection with the farmers of the market.
“My husband and I believe in linking arms with the other farmers. We aren’t the end all, be all. We need to work together to provide food for the people,” Snow added. Many of the farmers get together and share products with each other to improve their businesses.
Near the Providence Farms’ setup is a table filled with soaps of different shapes and smells. John and Rachel Palacino are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their business, Providence Farms, this year. In 2011, they created a new formula, and launched Red Clay Soap. Donning a ball cap and glasses, John explained how the soap business has expanded in recent years which is why they need to move to a bigger facility.
“When the market moved to the pavilion, they built it with the farmer’s market in mind. It gives the community the opportunity to experience fresh food and amazing events,” said Palacino.
With his glasses tilted and arms crossed, Palacino added that the younger people need to be reminded that the food doesn’t come from the grocery store.
Palacino explained, “With the craze of taking pictures of our food with our cell phones, you can lose sight of where that food came from and how it gets to the table.”
When you talk to the vendors at the farmer’s market, you will discover that every vendor is in it for more than just money. Jim Pfeiffer of Nood Clean emphasized this as he spoke about the company his family runs.
When the Pfeiffer family discovered one of their grandsons had issues with soap allergies, one of the sons created a line of all natural cleaning soaps. Grabbing each sample, Jim showed the products they offer. From dishwasher to shower soaps, the supply is endless. Everyone in the family is involved with the business.
“Any student that wants to find good quality products made by people that love what they do should come here. We’re all here to make money, but we don’t make it for the end dollar,” asserted Pfeiffer.
Businesses like Nood Clean and Providence Farms are examples of people in the community that love to serve the people of Travelers Rest.
The farmers market team works every week to provide a new event for customers. From the Tomato Sandwich Taste Off to the 4th of July Bike Day, there is always something going on along the Swamp Rabbit Trail. As the season comes to a close, the market is moving to Thursday nights, featuring more food vendors and food trucks. This is a great time for students to get involved with the people in the community.
Whether you’re just visiting or a seasoned local, the Travelers Rest Farmers Market is a quaint place to visit in a quaint little town.
For students looking to get involved with the market, the fall bluegrass and harvest market will be held every Thursday this October. Live music, food trucks and farmers are a few things you can check out at Trailblazer Park.