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Farmers Market at Litchfield still going strong as summer heats up

29 Jun

Farmers Market at Litchfield still going strong as summer heats up

As summer welcomes visitors to South Carolina’s Hammock Coast beach communities, the Farmers Market at Litchfield is busier than ever.

Located on the front grounds of the Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort, the market is open each Wednesday from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

Like at any good farmers market, items to be seen – and bought – range from locally grown fruit and vegetables, fresh baked goods, including Southern favorites like homemade Key Lime Pie and cheddar biscuits, to hand-poured soy candles. There are also dog treats made from natural ingredients, hand-crafted jewelry and gifts, and even prehistoric items like teeth from the Megalodon, a giant shark that swam the oceans 20 million years ago but whose massive teeth can still be found along South Carolina rivers and beaches.

Judy Van Noord has been a vendor at the Litchfield Farmers Market since it opened in the fall of 2021. (Photo by Mark A. Stevens/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

The market first opened in the fall of 2021. It was so popular that the resort brought it back in the spring of 2022. Now that the peak summer season is here, the market is as popular as ever.

Resort Manager Benjamin Greene said the farmers market’s future seems bright.

“We wanted to create a community event for people at Litchfield By the Sea and the Pawleys Island area, and we are continuing to grow and evolve this event,” Greene said. “We continue to add vendors and those who have been with us have done really well.”

Customers

Customers of the Farmers Market at Litchfield say the variety of items for sale keep them coming back week after week.

Chip and Barb Rodgers, originally from West Virginia, now live in the Pawleys Island area. During a recent visit to Litchfield, they said they enjoyed the variety that the farmers market had to offer.

“I can’t say I was looking for anything in particular that wasn’t here,” Barb Rodgers said. “We found a gift for a friend, and it was nice to find something we could use.”

Chip Rodgers said he enjoyed choosing from the variety of fresh produce at the J&J Farms stand at the market. Rich and Peg Pysar of the Litchfield community agreed, saying they like the fresh vegetables offered at the stand.

“I make pickles and these cucumbers are terrific,” Rich Pysar said. “Once in a while, we will get tomatoes or squash, too.”

Vendors

Johnny Graham operates the J&J Farms booth at the market. His daughters, Johnise and Jaylia Graham own J&J Farms, but it’s Johnny who operates the booth at markets. He said he enjoys meeting people who attend the farmers market.

Johnny Graham brings fresh produce and vegetables to the market each week. (Photo by Mark A. Stevens/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

“The vendors are very nice, and the customers are good people,” Johnny Graham said. “I tell everyone to come on over to the farmers market.”

Bobbi Gress with Waterside Wicks, which offers candles with clean scents and no chemicals in jelly jars, hand-carved wooden bowls, and clam shells, agreed.

“You get to meet a variety of people,” Gress said. “You have local people coming, plus you have the people from the resort that are coming.”

Brittany Baldassarri with Sweet Shoppe, which has baked goods like short-bread and chocolate chip cookies, and scones, also offers handmade hair barrettes under the name of Brittany’s Barrettes. She said this is the first season she has been with the Farmer’s Market in Litchfield but she likes the atmosphere there.

“It’s like a little community,” she said. “People help each other out.”

Candi Lynn Nichols with Candi’s Treasure Chest is an example of someone who wants to help those around her. She sells Megalodon teeth, which are as much as 50 million years old and found in the rivers near Charleston, as well as massage guns at the farmers market. But she also searches for lost items on the beaches of the Hammock Coast and does the morning weather report on social media called “Cutlass Candi’s Pirate Beach Report.”

Lisa Keyser with The Scrappy Scavenger offers jewelry made with repurposed materials including recycled paper. She said what she enjoys most about the farmers market is just being outside.

“I am enjoying the weather, even if I don’t sell anything,” Keyser said. “At least I got outside for the day.”

Karen Fister with Bijou Box Vintage, another new vendor at the farmers market, sells jewelry created with vintage broches she purchases at online auctions and estate sales.

“I put them with newer, modern pieces so people can wear them,” Fister said. “Some people don’t want to wear them as broches.”

She said she really enjoys the conversations she has with people at the farmers market.

Kate Martin with Sweet Kate’s Gluten-Free Sweets and Eats has been with the Farmers Market in Litchfield since the beginning. Selling mostly cookies and pound cakes, Martin said she likes being a vendor there.

“I like the community of Pawleys Island, as well as being on the resort property where you can meet everybody who is coming up town,” she said.

Tara Ewalt with Molly’s Morsels Dog Treats said her products, made with dehydrated, organic local ingredients, will “make your dog smile.” Gluten-free and grain-free, she makes her treats with dehydrated apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, green beans, parsley, carrots, strawberries, blueberries, kale, spinach, tomatoes, parsley, zucchini, cheeses, and more.

“I only use local produce and I use coconut flour instead of wheat or grain or oats,” Ewalt said. “And I use only citric acid and Vitamin E as natural preservatives.”

Carol Barr with Comfort Lane Baked Goods offers a variety of baked goods, including homemade spicy snacks called Firecrackers, blueberry poundcake, and rum cake. She said this is her first season with the farmer’s market but hopes to continue there.

“It is a nice community event and I enjoy it,” Barr said. “It is like a little club – the Wednesday Morning Club.”

Cindy Hedrick of Georgetown sells copies of her books, “Tales from SC-CARES” and “Love at First Sight” at the farmers market. She and her husband, Skip Yeager, who are owners of Sweeties’ Sweets in downtown Georgetown, ran SC-CARES (South Carolina Coastal Animal Rescue and Educational Sanctuary) for 13 years. It closed in January 2022. The books feature stories about the animals who lived there.

“I just didn’t want the animal stories to disappear because they were so amazing,” Hedrick said. “They taught me so much, and what I learned and got to experience with them, I want to share with people.”

Candi Lynn Nichols with Candi’s Treasure Chest sells Megalodon teeth and other interesting items at the Litchfield Farmers Market. (Photo by Clayton Stairs/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

She is also collecting donations for a new local wildlife sanctuary in Plantersville called Wild Things Freedom Center, which has some of the animals from SC-CARES.

Hedrick said she has gotten to know a lot of the other vendors and enjoys meeting the people who come to the farmers market.

“It seems like a good place to be, with people on vacation and locals coming in,” she said. “I’ve met some really interesting people and, thankfully, sold some books.”

John Hutton with My Olive Shack is originally from the Washington, D.C., area, and now lives in Murrells Inlet. Having a brick-and-mortar store in Myrtle Beach, he offers honey, bacon sauce, candy peppers, and fudge.

“We source with a lot of small local family-oriented businesses,” Hutton said. “In fact, everything in our store comes from small family businesses.”

Jeff and Faye Mack with Crafts by Jephph live in Surfside Beach. They sell unique creations by Jeff Mack, a former dentist, that they describe as “resin gifts and trays, soap dishes, decorative pieces, and vanity pieces.” Selling these items is Jeff’s “retirement project.”

Jeff Mack said his pieces are unique.

“I don’t want to overplay it, but I kind of sort of invented this,” he said. “I’ve never seen anybody do this, and because of that I can guarantee every piece here is absolutely original.”

Tom Przydylko, who lives near Surfside Beach, sells homemade earrings by his fiancé, Pamela Johnson, under the name PJ’s Earrings. They are in the shapes of animals like crabs, clams and cats, as well as seashells and fruit.

Judy Van Noord with JuJu’s Sweets is one of the original vendors at the market. She offers baked goods including Key Lime Pie (her best seller), coconut cake, peach pie and a variety of cookies and fudge. Litchfield is the only place she sells her sought-after sweets.

“Some of my customers make a b-line right for me,” she said. “It has been fantastic.”

No vendor fees

None of the vendors pay a fee to be part of the weekly market. Greene said the resort decided not to charge vendor fees to give back to the community.

“It allows vendors to set up in a centralized location each week and to be available for locals in the area,” Greene said. “With no vendor fees, we are not cutting into their profits.”

He added that new vendors are always welcome, and they can contact him on the resort’s website, litchfieldbeach.com, to put in an application.

Van Noord and other vendors appreciate that the Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort doesn’t charge a vendor fee for participating in the farmers market.

“To me, being a one-person operation, that is great because a vendor fee takes a chunk out of profits, especially in today’s market,” Van Noord said. “I have felt bad that I have had to raise the prices on some of my stuff, but only because the prices in the grocery store have gone up.”

Hutton with My Olive Shack agreed, saying that the resort officials see the “big picture.”

“In a lot of communities, (the farmers market) is about money for them,” he said. “We appreciate the fact that they aren’t charging us anything. I hope other vendors come and do well because they are trying to do this for the community.”

Faye Mack said she also appreciates the resort not charging vendor fees.

“There are a lot of people who do crafts that aren’t pricey,” she said, “People can’t go to these things if they charge too much because they just won’t make (that money) back.”

About South Carolina’s Hammock Coast

Georgetown County’s casual charm and Southern hospitality earned it the nickname Hammock Coast. Adventure and relaxation blend together in perfect harmony, like the flowing and ebbing of waves on the county’s famed beaches. With six communities – Garden City, Murrells Inlet, Litchfield, Pawleys Island, Georgetown and Andrews – comprising the pristine coastal area between Myrtle Beach and Charleston, visitors can experience South Carolina’s Hammock Coast like never before.

The Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort is located at 14276 Ocean Highway at the intersection of Ocean Highway and Willbrook Boulevard on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®. While the resort is gated, the courtyard where the farmers market will take place is in an area always open to the public.

For more information on the Hammock Coast, go www.HammockCoastSC.com.

By Clayton Stairs & Mark A. Stevens /Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®