Greenwood's Uptown Market Brings Local Food to Town

When the town of Greenwood started developing a master plan to revitalize the downtown area, a vacant three-acre lot in the middle of the cultural arts district was identified as an important piece of property to use. It’s a triangular plot that backs up to the railroad tracks and faces Maxwell Street, just off of Main Street, and it was just the right spot to build a permanent structure to house the Uptown Farmers Market.

The farmers market in Winter Haven, Florida, became the inspiration for how Greenwood’s Uptown Market would be designed: as a multi-use community space that would house the farmers market but could also be used for concerts and other events, featuring a splash pad to draw families. Both the market and the splash pad opened to the public in April of this year, and there are currently around 15 regular vendors.

Market manager Stephanie Turner came on board at the beginning of 2015. She had moved to Greenwood after receiving her master’s degree in plant science, working at Park Seed Company in various capacities, but when this position with the city was announced, she thought it might be a good fit for her. “In my second week on the job,” she says, “I went on a farm visit to Possum Kingdom Creamery. It was kidding time there, and they handed me a baby goat to bottle feed. All I could think was, this is the best job ever!”

In the almost year and a half between her starting the job and the official opening of the Uptown Market, her job was divided between coordinating the scheduling and coordinating of the market and reaching out to vendors, educating them about what was coming with the plans for the pavilion. “I spent that first season kind of beating the drum” about the Uptown Market, she says.

Part of the market’s vision is to “foster ties between farmers and the community and local businesses,” and Turner says there are a variety of ways that businesses have found opportunities to do that. Greenwood-based FujiFilm Manufacturing has a focus on water conservation, so they stepped up early on to sponsor the splash pad—their sponsorship covers the cost of staff and chemicals to treat the water, Turner says. And as part of their workforce wellness program, FujiFilm approached Turner with the idea to offer weekly produce boxes to their workers. The response exceeded what local farms were used to producing, but that, says Turner, is a positive thing if it encourages more local production and consumption.

Turner says there are plenty of people growing food in Greenwood and the surrounding counties, but they aren’t bringing it to market. Of the farmers who do market their produce, many are aging out and aren’t being replaced quickly enough by younger farmers, although one of the regular vendors is a teenager who grows vegetables and raises chickens and ducks for eggs.

To encourage people who are already growing food—those who have gone through the master gardener process, for example—to make their produce available to local consumers, Turner points growers to Clemson Cooperative Extension’s workshops for farm businesses, promoting them onthe Uptown Market’s web site.

Vendors do not have to be farmers, but they do need to produce the items they sell using local ingredients. There are three categories of vendor: farmer/producer, processor (selling prepared foods such as jellies or salsas, for example), and artisan/crafter. Other businesses that have a valid business license may sell at the farmers market, but they may not be resellers—all items sold must be the seller’s own products.

The full market is open on Wednesdays (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and Saturdays (8 a.m. to noon), and two vendors—Parisi Farms and Chef It Up—also have Monday hours from 8 a.m. to noon.

The pavilion that houses the market is available for event rentals, and the Uptown Live concert series will be held there about every other week on Thursday nights at 5:30 in the months of September and October. And be sure to check out the Celebrate AgriCULTURE exhibit at the Greenwood Arts Center in partnership with the Uptown Market through the end of August.

 Photos courtesy of the Uptown Market.

Sharon Purvis is a freelance writer and editor who makes her home with her husband in Duncan, South Carolina. You can find more of her work at