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Certified Roadside Market program brings fresh produce to SC communities
CERTIFIED ROADSIDE MARKETS

Certified Roadside Market program brings fresh produce to SC communities

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Whether they’re farmers selling their own products, or small-business owners who like to work outside and meet customers, the people behind South Carolina’s 150-plus Certified Roadside Markets are ambassadors for agriculture.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Certified Roadside Market program helps increase the availability of South Carolina-grown food and improves the quality of roadside markets around the state by promoting fair and sanitary marketing and business practices. As program members, markets agree to certain best practices in exchange for promotion by SCDA.

“The main requirement is you sell South Carolina produce, when it’s in season, and have a permanent structure – no tents or tailgates,” says Ansley Turnblad, a marketing coordinator with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture who runs the Certified Roadside Market program.

Some markets are seasonal, such as those that sell blueberries and strawberries, while others operate year-round. Some Certified Roadside Markets are on-farm stands or stores operated by the farmers themselves or their families. Other markets buy product from farmers to re-sell.

“You don’t necessarily have to grow the produce, but you have to sell in-season South Carolina produce,” Turnblad explains.

That’s just the beginning, though. As a tip sheet for prospective market owners puts it, “Simply building a structure does not ensure success.” In addition to finding customers and ensuring they return, market owners may need to work through zoning laws and business licensing, parking issues, and sourcing product, among other issues.

The Certified Roadside Market program is codified in state law. Markets are inspected regularly to ensure they meet program standards.

Membership in the program is free, and comes with valuable benefits: Certified Roadside Markets are listed on the SCDA website and in a free printed directory that’s distributed around the state’s welcome centers and at special events. Markets also get a free Certified South Carolina sign. The Certified brand enjoys more than 80 percent brand recognition among South Carolina consumers, so it’s an excellent promotional tool.

For Turnblad, the program gives her a chance to do what she loves best: learn from farmers.

“One of the perks of this job is the creativity of the farmers – how humble and hardworking they are,” Turnblad says. “One of the best parts of working roadside markets is getting out and meeting the farmers. They like to sell good produce and products to their communities. Farmers are proud of what they grow and enjoy sharing the fruits of their labor.”

To learn more about joining the Certified Roadside Market program, including a list of rules and regulations, a readiness checklist, and the application form, visit agriculture.sc.gov/where-to-buy-local/certified-roadside-markets. You can also use this link to search all Certified Roadside Markets by county and keyword. For more information, contact Ansley Turnblad at aturnblad@scda.sc.gov or 803-734-2207.

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