The State Farmers Market provides the agricultural community with a unique venue to showcase South Carolina products and consumers the chance to buy fresh, local food.
Each section of the market serves a specific customer. The Certified SC Sheds are pedestrian-friendly, with large sidewalks, convenient parking and a variety of Certified SC grown produce and other products. Wholesalers occupy another section of the market, so that truck traffic is kept separate from the pedestrian areas.
Being a part of the wholesalers’ section “is a big draw,” says Mike Severt, an owner of Severt & Sons Produce. Most of their customers are roadside markets that purchase items such as strawberries, tomatoes, peaches, cantaloupe and watermelon.
“Because we’re all in one place, the market draws more customers. Of course, the fact that we’re all in one place also means more competition. But competition is a good thing not just for the customer, but for us, too. Competition makes you work hard. We pride ourselves on that,” Severt says.
“At our old market, we were unable to conform to all the requirements for the food safety inspection,” he says.
The impressive, state-of-the-art facility, which opened in 2010, has changed that for wholesale vendors such as Senn Brothers Produce.
Senn Brothers Produce spent nearly 60 years at their location near the University of South Carolina football stadium before moving three years ago to the South Carolina State Farmers Market in West Columbia. Jimmy Senn, one of the owners of this second-generation produce wholesaler business, says that their new home has opened the door to a lot of opportunities.
“The State Farmers Market has established itself as a popular terminal market on the East Coast. Being a part of this market has provided us with the opportunity to form a network of produce distribution, not only across the state but also the entire U.S. and abroad,” Senn says.
His business provides produce for a variety of customers, including food service, the military, schools, prisons and more than 800 restaurants.
“This is very important to our business by having the advantage of personal contact, which increases your buying ability,” he says.
That kind of hard work and pride is on display every day across the State Farmers Market.