The Daily Gamecock

Healthy Carolina Farmers Market supports future of sustainability in Columbia

The Healthy Carolina Farmers Market aims to promote a more sustainable and healthy way of living, while also giving back to the community and local vendors.  

The market is a regular event that provides options for students to buy healthy produce, shop local businesses and support environmental-friendly agriculture is available at this pop-up market of local vendors on Greene Street. The vendors range from farmers, agricultural chefs or people creating their own business from the local area.

Students can buy produce and handmade products, while also learning about healthy recipes and initiatives taken to promote sustainability around campus from these vendors. The market is held on Greene Street from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekly on Tuesdays during the fall and springtime. It returned for the spring on March 15. 

The market has grown substantially over the past decade by reaching out to more local vendors, including those that hand-make different crafts. 

The market also features efforts made by the Carolina Food Company to promote healthier food in dining halls. Every component of the market is checked to ensure that it meets the guidelines of being sourced locally regionally or grown in South Carolina. 

Peyton Mosher, graduate assistant for Healthy Carolina, takes charge in organizing and setting up the vendors at the market. Although she only started this position in the fall of 2021, Mosher has reached out to vendors around the city and said she has formed connections with them.

“Whenever I go to Soda City, (vendors) are always asking me about my life and checking in, so I've kind of become like a little family, since I'm from out of state,” Mosher said. “But honestly, they've been amazing." 

The vendors have created their own culture in Columbia, with some attending the same local markets and others, like The Veggie Patch, having been involved with the Healthy Carolina Farmers Market for a decade. 

“Most of them kind of know each other and they bring other vendors each week,” Mosher said. “So it’s kind of nice to get to have new vendors brought in just with them.” 

Although the market’s vendors have had to adjust to university's guidelines in regards to packaging food separately and social distancing, this past fall gave back to not only the vendors but also back to the city's economy.

Over $22,000 from the market went back into the local economy during the fall season of 2021, all from local businesses and vendors striving for a cleaner and healthier environment. 

Since 2010, more vendors have begun participating. Cooking classes from University Health Services have made an appearance and a nutritionist with healthy recipes was also available to talk to at the market in the past.

Mosher said she hopes to get some of those services picked up and running after COVID-19 regulations became a bit looser, with rules now allowing food to be served to students on site. She said she also plans on handing out reusable grocery bags and working with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture in the future.

The Healthy Carolina Farmers Market also reached out to local businesses that sell different goods and handmade items. 

Susan Frederick is a vendor and the owner of Susan’s Succulents and Cacti. She started selling her own succulents in 2018. She said she has enjoyed gardening and landscaping since she was a little girl.

Frederick discussed the variety of plants and vegetables she had grown up and had experience with.

“My dad started me with gardening, and I always had a big garden,” Frederick said. 

She said she started upcycling coffee cups from Goodwill to use as pots for her succulents. 

“I use vases and just anything that will hold the dirt, you can use. So that just keeps stuff out of the landfill,” Frederick said. 

Frederick sells a variety of succulents and cacti, all in different patterned pots, and also sells at Soda City on Saturdays in Columbia. 

Succulents are low maintenance and only need water every few weeks. They're perfect for students that want something simple to spruce up their dorm or apartment, she said.

“I love it," Frederick said. "I enjoy being with the students. They love succulents and cactuses." 

Frederick said she plans on expanding her collection and wants to start selling some bigger plants. 

Frederick is just one of many people who are working to be more green. There are vendors that grow all of their own produce, make their own soap and reinforce the trend of reduce, reuse and recycling, like January Remingtonn, who offers a dollar off on your next candle if you return the previous candle jar back. 

Partnering with the Carolina Food Company also gives students a chance to discuss healthy initiatives and taste sustainable recipes that are locally sourced. 

The Carolina Food Company also contributes to creating a more sustainable environment.

At their table, they pass out healthy recipes cards and share their progress within different projects around campus according to Scott Warner, the sustainability manager for Carolina Food Company.  

Warner is appreciative of being able to highlight these sustainable practices at the market for students, and also around campus by sourcing locally and reducing waste in the dining halls. 

“For us, it’s a great opportunity to showcase, you know, what we’re doing from a sustainability perspective on campus,” Warner said. “And so we use the market as a platform to share those initiatives with students.” 


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