The Halifax Market Place and Farmer’s Market season opening Saturday gave farmers and community members a chance to interact in a safe environment in a time when social interaction is limited. The farmers and customers alike said their favorite part of the event was sharing conversations.
The Market Place at 209 S. Main St. is home to the Farmer’s Market.
“The people here are great. I like seeing my regulars,” said Rhoda Crites, a Nathalie woodworking vendor who makes handmade plaques using a scroll saw. “I met a guy in here who also does woodworking, and we talked for about an hour. I like the interaction.”
Market manager Denise Barksdale estimated 250 to 275 people attended the market’s season opening between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon.
“It allows people to get out, but it’s in a safe environment,” Barksdale said. “People have been respecting the social distancing guidelines, and we really appreciate that.”
Erica Reyes of South Boston, who visited the market Saturday with her 15-month-old daughter Loraine Talley, said the social interaction, “gives you a sense of normalcy.”
She bought blueberries, her daughter’s favorite, from Volens farmer J.E. Saunders.
“The people are friendly, and they share conversations with you,” said Saunders.
It was a profitable day for the vendors, in particular the produce vendors, with some even selling out. Cluster Springs farmer Dave Meadows showed up bright and early at the market with multiple crates of Coral Star and Bounty peaches, and by noon, he only had a handful remaining.
“I had a little over 100 pounds of peaches,” Meadows said. “It’s been a real good crowd here today.”
Nathalie farmer Avery Boyd’s corn on the cob also was a hot seller.
“It’s been a bigger crowd today, more people coming out,” Boyd said. He added that while the market drew a crowd, everybody had been adhering to safety guidelines by wearing masks.
Wallicia Lacks bought some jalapeno peppers from Boyd, while her 5-year-old granddaughter Victoria Lacks held a Jasmine doll she had bought her at the market.
“Everybody’s friendly and you meet different people,” Lacks said, of the market. “The products are fresh.”
Business also was swift for Maika Spell of 3 Friends Homestead, who sold her beets, jams, jellies, pickles and relishes at the market.
“We had a line this morning, it was wonderful,” Spell said. “We have had a lot of new business.”
One of her customers was Lisa Winstead of South Boston.
“I wanted to come out here today to show my support,” Winstead said. “It’s a great launch (for the market).”
While farmers talked with customers and shared recipe ideas for the fresh fruits and vegetables they were purchasing, other market goers made their way over to the grill manned by Darnell Barksdale and enjoyed a free hot dog.
Inside the market, vendors offered a variety of handcrafted products from soaps to jewelry and painted wine bottles. Children had a chance to register to win one of two free bicycles, and pick up an information packet for the market’s virtual Power of Produce Club. The POP Club teaches children about fruits and vegetables while giving them an opportunity to earn vouchers to purchase produce from market vendors.
“We’ve had 23 kids participate in the POP Club today,” Barksdale said. “We wanted to open up and expand the opportunities for those who want to participate (by offering the information packets both at the market and online). The activity pages that were given out today will be posted on the market’s Facebook page.”
Children at the market also enjoyed seeing the dogs and cats the Halifax County Humane Society brought to the market for adoption. Eleanor Hamilton, 2, of South Boston, got a chance to pet one of the dogs, Daisy Mae. Her father Will Hamilton said he and his daughter come to the farmer’s market regularly and are considering adopting an animal from the Humane Society in the future.
Faye Michaud of the Humane Society said one kitten was adopted at the market Saturday, and the Humane Society had received about $100 in donations. She said it was the Humane Society’s first time attending an event since the start of the pandemic.