CHATHAM — Matt Jarrett, a farmer who lives in the Chatham area, remembers when all the local farmers markets simply stopped during the winter, leaving him without a surefire way to make an income.
“It was horrible,” he said.
As someone who counts on his ability to sell directly to customers, not having a market for a whole season was not ideal.
That’s why Jarrett is excited that Chatham First, a local organization that aims to promote and improve Chatham, is hosting a weekly indoor farmers market at Chatham Baptist Church on Tuesday afternoons through the winter months.
Earlier this week, at tables scattered around the room, seven vendors offered a wide range of products, from baked goods to fresh eggs to homemade dog collars.
“This is a hyper local market. That means everything at this market was handmade or home grown in Pittsylvania County or Danville,” said Amy Davis, one of the organizers and vendors who is active in Chatham First.
This is the second year Chatham First has sponsored the winter market, but location problems disrupted it last year. In the two weeks the winter market has been open, there has been a slight dip in the number of vendors from the summer market, Davis said. During the summer they averaged 11 vendors, with about eight showing up for the first two weeks.
Of course, the products available at the market also change during the winter months. Davis said there is usually a decline in produce and an increase in crafts.
James Withington, a newcomer to farmers markets who just started with the Chatham market this year, is one of those selling craft products.
He makes paintings and handmade signs to sell, while his wife makes jewelry.
Like Jarrett, he is glad the market continues through the winter and allows him to maintain some income.
“This is kind of the way that we make some of our money to live on,” he said.
Several vendors said one of the problems so far has been getting customers to come to the winter market.
Steve East manned a table full of brightly-colored products, such as handmade quilts, dog collars and eye masks that his wife makes. He expects the crowds to pick up as the market goes on and the word gets out.
“Once the word gets out ... it’s a pleasant atmosphere,” he said.
After 39 years in the military, Paul Kypriandes, 71, decided to start a vegetable patch. After a growing season with a surplus of produce that he and his wife had to can, she told him he needed to sell if he wanted to keep going. This year, in his first year at the market in Competition Alley, Kypriandes sold vegetables during the summer and now is focusing on eggs.
“It basically gives the community an opportunity to have locally grown products,” he said of the market.
Davis said one of the benefits of these farmer’s markets is keeping money in the local economy.
“It’s just a great place to get all your Christmas presents and support a local family,” she said.
The market takes place every Tuesday from 4 to 5:30 p.m.
Ayers reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7981.