The Switzerland County Farmers and Artisans Marketplace is a busy place early on a sunny Saturday morning.
Local shoppers mix with out of towners, exploring all of the different options for purchase – from homemade baked goods to handcrafted gift items.
Valarie Bennett sits beneath an awning to give her some shade from the morning sun while she sews a new item and talks with visitors.
The marketplace, which is located near the Markland Dam in the Markland Business Park, showcases high-quality fresh produce; baked and prepared goods; and other agricultural items that are raised, grown, and produced by vendors from Switzerland County and adjacent counties.
“There are all sorts of things for people to shop for and purchase out here,” Valarie Bennett says. “We have construction workers who are staying here for a job come by and buy things; and we have both local people and people from outside the county. It gets pretty busy.”
Angie Priest is selling locally produced honey at her booth next door; and says that not only does the marketplace provide good, quality, home grown and homemade items; but it is also an excellent way for local gardeners and artisans to make some extra money.
A booth in the marketplace is just $5 per week; or a person can set up for the entire season for just $75.
Grow too many tomatoes or have too many green beans? Load them up and head to the marketplace.
The more the merrier.
“It’s an excellent place for both buyers and sellers,” Angie Priest said. “The vendors change from week to week depending on what’s in season, so you can stop every week and find different things.”
Farmers markets provide valuable marketing opportunities and low barriers of entry for farmers and artisans. The Marketplace allows smaller-scale farmers and producers to enjoy a local outlet for their production, and adds another venue for the community to purchase locally grown produce, prepared foods and other agricultural items from local vendors.
Another awning finds Cathy Curry and daughter-in-law Brandy Curry. Their selling a variety of garden items, as well as homemade soaps and body scrubs.
Karen Nickell is offering free cupcakes at her craft booth across the parking lot; and a large tent near her features fresh, homemade baked goods by Amish ladies.
Being in the Business Park has its challenges, because “drive by” shopper traffic is harder to come by; but those out at the Marketplace on Saturday morning are excited about the number of vendors and the number of shoppers who are taking some time to check things out each week.
It is open every Saturday, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Throughout the growing season, the Marketplace also plans to showcase various musicians, cooking demonstrations, and other events for the whole family to enjoy.
Stop by and support local farmers and artisans. For addition information, call (812) 599-7205 or (812) 594-2050; or via email at SwissCoFarmers@gmail.com.
Information on the Marketplace can also be found on Facebook.