Landrum Farmers Market looks to grow, gets questions from business owner

Published 9:40 pm Thursday, April 25, 2013

by Samantha Hurst

Landrum resident Emily Annas launched a spring market indoors at Ken Fine Meats and Seafoods in early April. The market is open every other weekend, with the next one on May 4.

Summer market manager Joe Cunningham plans to open the Landrum outdoor market May 18.

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Annas said there were 40-plus people at the second market held this season.
The market opens at 9:30 a.m. and runs until 1 p.m. Vendors sell items from breads to chocolates to shitake mushrooms, as well as eggs, produce, baked goods and crafts, such as birdhouses.

Paul Ayers, owner of Ayers Market, however, approached Landrum City Council members at their April 9 meeting with concerns about how the Landrum Farmers Market is run.

“I’m not against the farmers market but there have to be some controls,” Ayers said. “I had one woman come to my store who told me her son bought things at Columbia and brought it to our market to sell.”

Cunningham assured Ayers and council that controls do exist.

“We have a rule that you have to produce what you bring and they are subject to being visited at their farm,” Cunningham said. “We have turned people away – I turned one guy away last year who was trying to sell watermelons in May.”

Cunningham said the reason the market in Landrum is so popular is because everything is local and fresh.

Ayers said he is also concerned that the farmers are allowed to sell without a permit.

“To me that is cutting my throat, especially mine, because it affects me more than anybody in town,” Ayers said. “There should be some sort of fee because I pay my business license and so do other businesses.”

Cunningham said the market at its height sees around 400 people who normally wouldn’t come into town. He said he wouldn’t want to deter farmers from coming by charging them a fee because then fewer people would come to town.

“The more people you have the more people you are going to draw in,” council member Jan Horton said.

There is currently no fee for farmers to participate in the market. Mayor Robert Briggs suggested charging a nominal fee for farmers to come. Spartanburg and Polk County markets require farmers to pay a fee on either a weekly or seasonal basis, Cunningham said.

“You know farmers – we don’t make any money. I tell people this is a community service and that is all it is,” Cunningham said.

The base fee for business licenses is $35 a year, Landrum City Administrator Steve Wolochowicz said.

He suggested, and Cunningham agreed for the participating farmers to pay the fee collectively.