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Fruits of Their Labor
Published Tuesday, May 19, 2009 9:00 AM
By Paul Zoeller
Summerville Journal Scene
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For 18 years, Richard Gruber and his family have traveled to Summerville every Saturday morning , starting in spring, to sell the fruits of their labor. Literally, Gruber is a farmer and his family sells the fruits and vegetables they raise on their farm in St. George at the Summerville Farmer's Market.

Every Saturday morning beginning in early March, farmers and vendors sell their produce and wares along W. Doty Avenue in Summerville. Yet the event is much more than a market to sell but a gathering of friends and neighbors who find time to chat between picking ripe cantaloupes and eating boiled peanuts.

Wendy Melton from Harleyville patiently waits for the customers to arrive after setting up the farm fresh fruits and vegetables at her booth.

On this particular morning, some vendors are busy lining tables with various fruits and vegetables as others unload crates filled with crafts and various merchandise. While booths are setup, everyone chats and catches up with each other before customers begin to arrive.

Farmer Larry Hernandez arrives early to carry his produce to his booth while his family sets it up.

Everyone at the Flower Arrangements by Claudia booth say they come back every year because they enjoy seeing the friends they have made at the market. Though many of the farmers come from a small town throughout the area, they all know each other after spending many Saturdays throughout the years at the farmer's market selling together.

And still others, like Richard Stroble of Stroble Produce Farms in Harleyville, say they come back because the Summerville Farmer's Market is the best farmer's market around.

Wanda Westbury and farmer Richard Gruber visit as he looks for a cantaloupe for her.

Just after 8 a.m. the streets start filling as the early risers make their way through the tables of produce. Families with strollers, kids with shaved ice and couples walking their dogs line up at the tables as farmers, like Gruber who hands out free bananas to customers, tell them about their newest items and best deals.

Brian Campbell breaks away from his booth to visit with Laura Dantzler and get some strawberries.

Before long the street is alive with chatter as friends and neighbors stop to talk and kids chase each other around with new toys. Everyone knows someone at the farmer's market and usually many stop and gather to socialize between booths. Others stop to chat with the vendors they have been buying from for many years.

Ellaina Vezina, 7,takes the produce her mother, Stephanie Vezina, bought as she loads her bag.

Those who shop at the market know exactly what they want -- fresh organic produce. As customers walk by, farmers drop buzz words in their ear like farm fresh and organic. Stephanie Vezina and her daughter Ellaina like the quality of produce sold and they do their weekly grocery shopping on Saturdays at the market. They buy so much, each carries a set of reusable bags to carry all the groceries home.

Stephen Frayman, canning for almost 35 years, slowly strings together the seat of a rocking chair.

Some visit the market to pick up a few items and browse the different booths. From lawn ornaments to floral arrangements and cute cards made by a little girl named McKenzie Howard, there are many items to occupy the time of those not into serious produce buying.

Kailyn Creach, 3, spots some familiar characters made into yard stakes as she shops with her grandmother.

The morning proved quite busy for the vendors as a steady stream of customers walked along W. Doty Avenue.

A collection of wood carved wine toppers sits on display at Fred Holsclaw's booth.

By mid-morning, a band of musicians had gathered at one end and began playing bluegrass music.

Susan Watts of the Sweetgras Girls performs at the farmer's market.

Finally I met the peanut philosopher, my name for him, as I ventured from booth to booth. The Rev. Samuel Campbell sat there watching from his seat as his grandsons manned store. While seated with him next to a large pot filled with boiled peanuts, we discussed life, family and God.

Campbell was happy to sit and spin tales and impart the wisdom gathered throughout his life. And I was happy to sit and listen.

The Rev. Samuel Campbell imparts words of wisdom in between checking on his boiled peanuts.

That is what the Summerville Farmer's Market is all about -- stopping and talking to old friends or making new friends.

Shirley Smith, visiting from New Jersey, relaxes as she waits for other family members to finish shopping at the market.

The market is different than most in the Lowcountry given its small-intimate setting in downtown Summerville. That is why many return every weekend, a casual meeting place where those buying and those selling see their friends while shopping.

Paul Zoeller is a freelance photographer new to the area. Do you have an idea for a new blog or a question about a current blog? If you do contact Zoeller at

Comments (4)

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Beautiful produce
Tuesday, September 22, 2009 7:52 PM

Looks like a nice way to spend a Saturday morning and a great place to get some delicious produce. The fruit looks so fresh and yummy!

Posted by: Joanne
Farmer market
Thursday, June 04, 2009 6:38 PM

Don't you wish they have this market all year long. It seems like such a fun place to be and getting fresh fruits and vegetables at the same time.

Posted by: Co Hoa
why not show the flea market vendors too?
Friday, May 29, 2009 1:29 AM

nice pictures....but to be need to show the other market vendors that now plague the produce vendors. the summerville farmers market is now cheaper that the ladson flea market...booth rental 5.00 in summerville, 15.00 in ladson. you can now by your overstocks and avon on the street on saturday mornings. i wish they would just stick to the theme: farmers market. that to me does not mean flea market items such as avon, deodorant, perfumes, jewelry, dvd's and items sold out of the back of automobiles.

Posted by: not shopping there anymore due to the clutter
We love the Farmer's Market
Wednesday, May 20, 2009 11:33 AM

As a teenager our family lived overseas, we ofter shopped at the souq (open-air-market) and it had a similar atmosphere. You get to know the people, Barbara Limehouse, Rina from Rina's kitchen, and their families too. My husband and I buy fresh produce and bakery items then go to breakfast while our teens are still sleeping. It's an enjoyable way to spend saturday morning.

Posted by: Hometown Girl that came back home

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