Holiday market expands opportunities for farmers

Holiday market expands opportunities for farmers

Locally grown and freshly produced produce was sold at the Holiday Farmers Market, organized by South Carolina State University’s 1890 Research and Extension Program. The event took place in the lower level lobby of SC State’s Oliver C. Dawson Bulldog Stadium.

SC State 1890 staff and local farmers provided customers with live food demonstrations and information about the research and extension program. Products such as cabbage, cabbage, mustard, turnips, kale, pecans, walnuts, sugar cane, sweet potatoes and many other locally harvested products were available in the market.

This event had not taken place since 2010, and for local farmer Bennie Manuel it was his first time attending. After receiving the email about the event, Manuel thought it was a good idea to register.

“I enjoy being here and I’m happy to meet a lot of people. I hope it will be a good turnout at the end – so far I have done really well,” said Manuel. “I am a small farmer. I have pecan trees, I have peanuts and collard greens planted in the garden,” he said.

Local farmer Bennie Manuel showcases fresh produce at the Holiday Farmers Market

Manuel owns a 25-acre farm in Fairfax and owns 14 cows, six goats and 12 sheep. At the market, he sold peanuts, pecans, green cabbage and sugar cane.

Kisha Kinard, a farmer from Walterboro, also participated in the Holiday Farmers Market. She and her husband, Charles Kinard, are the owners of SweetgrassRoots LLC, a small farm and business dedicated to preserving the Gullah Geechee art form of sweetgrass basketry and other crafts. They started their farm and business in 2019.

Farmer Kisha Kinard presents a historical exhibition with her products.

“When we started the farm, it paved the way for us to be able to tap into resources such as those provided by SC State University’s 1890 program,” Kisha Kinard said. “We are sweetgrass growers, and we also grow squash, like loofah. We are branching out into birdhouse gourds and other gourds that can be used to make crafts.

“At the end of the day, we’re looking forward to making indigo so we can dip and dip in the dye,” she said.

At the market, Kinard sold sweetgrass baskets and jewelry, loofah gourds and birdhouse gourds.

Kinard started making baskets as a child and has over 40 years of experience in the craft. She operated as a sole proprietor for years before creating SweetgrassRoots.

Kinard’s great-aunt was a great inspiration to her as she, along with her mother and grandmother, helped teach Kinard how to make sweetgrass baskets. Sweetgrass basketry is not only Kinard’s passion and craft, but also a deep part of her story that she loves to share with others.

“This farmers market has several objectives. With 1890 in the community and a focus on agriculture, it’s a way for us to bring together farmers – many of whom are small minorities. A lot of farmers here are working with our sustainability and agricultural officers here,” said Elizabeth Mosley-Hawkins, director of marketing and communications for SC State’s 1890 Research and Extension Program.

Many 1890 Research and Extension farmer partners are also part of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, which teaches farmers how to grow their produce using little or no chemicals. According to Mosley-Hawkins, the cabbages sold at the market were grown without any fertilizer.

“These farmers are essentially entrepreneurs, so we’re teaching them different ways to expand their markets, and we’re happy to be able to make SC State a potential market for them,” Mosley-Hawkins said. “We want to make sure people have access to nutritious food, so this is another way to make sure our community is nourished with healthy food.”

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