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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The morning proved quite busy for the vendors as a steady stream of customers walked along W. Doty Avenue.
By mid-morning, a band of musicians had gathered at one end and began playing bluegrass music.
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.
That is what the Summerville Farmer's Market is all about -- stopping and talking to old friends or making new friends.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.