Augusta residents will once again be able to enjoy fresh, locally grown produce with the reopening Thursday of the Veggie Park Farmers Market along the Augusta Canal.
The open air market features vendors selling honey, peppers, blueberries and more under a shelter on Eve Street across from Sibley Mill. Market manager Rebecca Birchfield said this location is free to use thanks to a sponsorship with the Augusta Canal Authority.
"It was somewhere that we could get the farmers in where they don’t have to pay a stall fee," Birchfield said. "Because we’re a nonprofit, we just want to be able to give the farmers access to sell their goods and the community somewhere to buy them."
The market has taken coronavirus-related safety measures. Social distancing guidelines have been put in place, including the use of sanitation stations and masks. Customers are not allowed to touch the products on display, and purchases are packaged by the vendors.
David Faison of Dface Farm in Hephzibah said he appreciates the measures being taken.
"I love it," he said. "I got everything individually packaged and you can look at it, pick the one you want, and that way people don’t handle your fruits and vegetables."
The market is also trying to consider low-income families.
"We do also double EBT, so for every dollar they spend, we double it," Birchfield said.
Farmers markets have been one of the many places throughout America affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Frequent shoppers such as Deirdre Shaw of Augusta are happy to have one back.
"It’s great," Shaw said. "I want to support all the local farmers ... I want to keep them around, so whatever I can do to help support them, I’m all for it."
One of the biggest area farmers markets is the Augusta Market held Saturdays on Eighth Street along the Savannah River. The market was scheduled to open June 6 but has been postponed because of the pandemic, with no word yet on when it will open.