By Mimi Wood, Island Eye News Staff Writer
Photos by Steve Rosamilia
A detectable sense of disappointment pervaded the Sullivan’s Island Farmers’ Market on June 30— disappointment that it was the final market of the summer. By all accounts, the inaugural season was a smashing success; the refrain from residents and vendors alike is “We want more!”
The market is the brainchild of local nurseryman Mike Noll and his wife, Joan. In selling plants from their Plant the Earth Nursery at other markets, they wondered why Sullivan’s Island didn’t have one. Collecting over 150 signatures, Noll presented a petition, along with his idea, to the Sullivan’s Island Town Council.
Armed with research on other area markets, and some suggestions of how Sullivan’s could be run, Mike noted how the infrastructure was in place and that the market would be a “budget neutral” undertaking. In an example of small town living at its finest, the council bit, assigned the project to the Recreation Committee, and the market debuted on April 7, 2016.
The market’s small(ish) size made it unique, along with the variety and quality of vendors. In addition to locally sourced produce, seafood, and ‘craft’ foods, a diverse array of artisans offered the fruits of their talents, as well as a smattering of non-profits, and junior vendors.
In an interview on his 62nd birthday, Noll exclaimed that the Sullivan’s Island Farmers’ Market has been the “most friendly, community-uniting endeavor in recent history.” Seeing the social interaction between long-time neighbors and newcomers has been “inspiring”.
Islander Jen Snyder was visibly deflated when she learned the last market was scheduled for June 30. “I come as often as I can, for the fresh, local produce,” Snyder said. “I think it’s really important to support the local farmers.” A conviction held by Noll as well, “We need to do more for our farmers.”
As word began to leak that the market was running for only 13 weeks, islanders have begun to sign another petition, requesting the Town of Sullivan’s Island extend the market until Labor Day, at least. Sadly, that won’t happen this year.
Sarah Church, Chair of the Recreation Committee, explained that the council decided to ‘test the waters” before launching a full scale, season long market. “Between the increased tourist traffic in the summer, and the fact that many of our locals travel elsewhere, we wanted to give it trial, then regroup and evaluate,” Church said. The market was received “very well within the community,” with Church adding that the “response from islanders has been incredible!”
Next step? The Recreation Committee will meet and make a recommendation to the full Council on whether or not to resume the market in the spring of 2017. If you missed it this year, take heart. “Everyone’s excited,” Church said. “I would be shocked if it doesn’t return.”