May 25, 2022


Skillful Business Crafters

Anderson Farmers Market opens for season in new location downtown | Business

ANDERSON — As a stiff, chilly breeze rustled the flaps of his tent at the Anderson Farmers Market, Mikkal Hodge looked across the small parking lot that the market will call home this year and gave a quick answer to the question of why he was there.

“You make contacts, you start putting names with faces, and they’re customers for the rest of the season,” said Hodge, who with his father owns Hodge Family Farm, a fruit and vegetable business near Alexandria. “It’s important to be here on opening day to make all the acquaintances and meet everybody from last year.”

Opening day for the farmers market was Saturday, with vendors and customers alike expressing approval for its new location and partnership with Collective Roots Local Market & Café.

Regular vendors made a shared decision to relocate the weekly market to the lot directly across from Collective Roots after two years at Park Place Community Center. With Collective Roots emphasizing locally grown produce, meats and other artisan goods, the decision to partner with the market was sensible for everyone involved.

“It’s like a one-stop shop for all things local,” said Anna Ulam, owner of Collective Roots. “We have 50 vendors inside (the building), and now we’ll have more than 25 additional vendors outside.”

Hodge said the market’s new location in downtown Anderson will make it more visible and accessible.

“Park Place was great, but…you couldn’t drive by on the road and see it,” he said. “I think with what Anna has done here at Collective Roots and the local following she’s grown here, having it here — of course on a warmer day it would help a little more — but having it here will really be a big boost for this market.”

Windy conditions and temperatures in the low 50s didn’t dissuade a steady stream of shoppers from milling around and browsing the offerings at many of the booths. Alexandria resident Alexis Givens stopped by to shop for starter plants and came away with some tomato plants and other items for her garden.

“I like the idea of putting money back into the community and letting it grow from there,” she said. “Keeping everything local is a good idea to help the community grow. It’s always a good thing to do to support the people you live with.”

Ulam noted that the market’s new location is on one of the City of Anderson Transit System’s regular routes and, with parking available about a block away at the Anderson Public Library’s lot, access should be convenient on most Saturdays.

She added that vendors can accept electronic benefits transfer cards from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which she hopes will open the market’s offerings up to lower income individuals and families.

“Our produce vendors can take those vouchers, and we can take them inside here, too,” she said.

Follow Andy Knight on Twitter @Andrew_J_Knight, or call 765-640-4809.