The Laurens Downtown Farmers Market opens at 8 a.m. this Saturday, June 10, and Main Street Laurens, which hosts the market, is still welcoming vendors for any or all of the Saturday morning markets, which run from 8 a.m. to noon each week.
“We still have plenty of space for farmers to come, as well as some craft and non-profits who would like to come set up,” said Main Street director Jonathan Irick. “We just need them to contact us at the office by calling 864-984-2119.”
For this Saturday’s introductory market, Main Street Laurens is networking with the Piedmont Agency on Aging to offer vouchers to help senior citizens cover the cost of produce from certified vendors at any farmers market across the state.
“The Piedmont Agency on Aging is coordinating the program in Laurens County,” said Irick. “A photo ID will be required and these vouchers are available to people 60 and older once they fill out a simple form to qualify.”
The vouchers have been available in many counties for several years through the Department of Agriculture and DSS, but this is the first year they have been available in Laurens County.
A booth marked by balloons at Blank Slate, 110 East Public Square, will open at 8 a.m. where seniors 60 and over can fill out a form to qualify for the vouchers totaling $25. They can be used at any farmers market participant which has been certified by the Department of Social Services to accept them, Irick said.
“The vouchers will be available on a first come, first served basis,” Irick said. “I’m not positive if we’ll have certified vendors here this weekend because Department of Social Services requires the farmers come to training sessions, but the vouchers are good for the rest of the year so they’ll have other opportunities to use them.”
Also present at the first summer Laurens Downtown Farmers Market are a wellness fair and booths offering healthy lifestyle and nutritional information and simple health screenings. BlueChoice HealthPlan Medicaid will give baskets of produce to the first 100 to visit the health and wellness booths.
“We try and provide unusual fruits or vegetables to introduce people to a wider variety of produce,” said David Rojas, outreach specialist for Blue Choice Health Plan Medicaid, based in Columbia. “People can pick up a health passport from our booth and when they get it initialed by the other partner agencies, then they come back and get their basket of produce.”
“We offer something different at each farmers market,” Rojas said, “but it’s to educate the community on healthy eating and the need to eat nutritious meals.”
Next Saturday the Laurens Downtown Farmers Market will partner with Cornerstone Investment, which is sponsoring a shred truck that will be parked at the northwest corner of the Historic Square near its office, Irick said. Anyone can bring documents for shredding free of charge on that day.