Locally grown and fresh produce was sold at the Holiday Farmers Market, hosted by South Carolina State University’s 1890 Research & Extension Program. The event took place in the lower concourse of SC State’s Oliver C. Dawson Bulldog Stadium.
1890 SC State employees and local farmers provided live food demonstrations and information about the Research & Extension Program to customers. Products such as collards, cabbage, mustard, grapes, peanuts, peanuts, sugar cane, sweet potatoes and many other items were harvested locally.
This event has not been held since 2010, and for local farmer Bennie Manuel, it was his first time participating. After receiving the email about the event, Manuel thought it would be a good idea to sign up.
“I’m happy to be here and happy to see so many people. I hope the turnout will be good in the end – so far, I’ve done really well,” said Manuel. “I am a small farmer. I have a pecan tree, I have nuts and vegetables growing in the garden,” he said.
Local farmer Bennie Manuel offers fresh produce at the Holiday Farmers Market
Manuel owns a 25-acre farm in Fairfax with 14 cows, six goats and 12 sheep. At the market, he sells peanuts, pecans, peanuts and sugarcane.
Kisha Kinard, a farmer from Walterboro, participates in the holiday farmers market. She and her husband, Charles Kinard, own SweetgrassRoots LLC, a small farm and business dedicated to preserving the Gullah Geechee art form of sweet baskets and other crafts. They built their farm and business in 2019.
Farmer Kisha Kinard presents a historic display with her produce.
“When we started the farm, we opened a path where we could use resources like those provided by the SC State University program in 1890,” said Kisha Kinard. “We grow sweet grass, and we grow pumpkins, like luffa.” We are branching out into gourdhouses and other gourds that can be used for handicrafts”.
“Ultimately, we hope to make indigo so we can jump in and swim in dyeing,” he said.
In the market, Kinard sold grass baskets and ornaments, luffa gourds and cage gourds.
Kinard began making baskets at a young age and has over 40 years of experience in the craft. He worked as a sole proprietor for many years before founding SweetgrassRoots.
Kinard’s aunt was an inspiration to her as she, her mother and grandmother helped teach Kinard how to make grass baskets. Sweetgrass baskets are not only Kinard’s passion and craft, but a deep part of her story that she loves to share with others.
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“This farmers’ market serves several purposes. With 1890 in the community and emphasis on agriculture, a way we can bring farmers together – many of them are minority farmers. Many of the farmers here work with our agricultural workers,” said Elizabeth Mosley-Hawkins, director of Marketing & Communications for SC’s Research and Extension Program. State 1890.
Many of the farmers working with Research and Extension 1890 are part of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, which teaches farmers how to increase yields with little or no chemical use. According to Mosley-Hawkins, the collards sold in the market are grown without fertilizer.
“These farmers are basically entrepreneurs, so we’re teaching them different ways to expand their markets, and we’re excited to be able to bring SC State a potential market for them,” Mosley-Hawkins said. “We want to make sure that people have access to nutritious food, but this is another way to ensure that our community has healthy food.”