Area farmers hit by rising costs too

Published 3:19 pm Monday, June 23, 2008

Restaurants and grocers aren&squo;t the only people in the area feeling a pinch from rising food costs. Local farmers who sell at the Landrum and Polk County farmer&squo;s markets are hit by rising food prices as well.

On June 7, at the Landrum Farmer&squo;s Market, a vast assortment of fresh products was available. But these local vendors are feeling the pinch too, market coordinator Joe Cunningham said. Cunningham, who owns Mountain View Berry Farms with his wife Joyce, has seen first hand the rising costs.

&dquo;We&squo;re not immune from rising prices at all,&dquo; he said. &dquo;It costs us more with fuel and seed prices.&dquo;

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Gerald Harbinson, organizer of the Polk County market concurred. &dquo;It&squo;s hitting everybody hard,&dquo; he said.

Harbinson pointed to the rising costs of fuel used for tractors and some fuel-powered irrigation pumps and the rising costs of fertilizers.

There are also weather problems, Harbinson said, such as the ongoing drought. But the consensus seems to be that the farmers&squo; market will still get plenty of business this summer.

&dquo;They want fresh merchandise and they also want homegrown,&dquo; Cunningham said.

&dquo;It depends on how far they&squo;ll have to travel,&dquo; Landrum vendor Tonda Pittman said. &dquo;They love (these markets). You do get a little better deal.&dquo;

The shoppers who were already checking out the markets agreed.

&dquo;You can find things here you can&squo;t find at the store,&dquo; Landrum resident Holly Kroland said. &dquo;I want to support the local farmers.&dquo;