For many Upstate residents—myself included—it’s a sad day at the end of October when the area’s farmers’ markets close down for the winter. Last January, however, Will McCameron, one of the owners of Brewery 85 on Greenville’s East Side, gave foodies something to smile about when he launched The Toasty Farmer.
McCameron, a fan of farmers’ markets, conceived the event initially as both a way to bring customers to the brewery and to make farm-fresh produce available during the lean winter months. After calling some of his farmer friends, he put in a call to Adrienne Hawkins, who had just left her position as executive director of the Travelers Rest Farmers Market. “I was planning to take a break,” Hawkins confesses, “but I saw great potential in a winter market, and I just couldn’t resist.”
In its first year, the family- and dog-friendly indoor/outdoor market ran every other Saturday from January through March and included 30 vendors. It was such a hit that the producers clamored to hold the event more often, so this winter the market started in November and will operate every Saturday until March 10. “We have gone from 7 markets [in the season] to 19, and increased the number of vendors to 45,” reports Hawkins. “Will has been an amazing host. We pretty much take over the brewery every week.”
While food trucks park outside, you’ll find most of the vendors inside the brewery (go back around the corner past the bar). A core of producers (Growing Green Family Farms, Mushroom Mountain, Southern Berkshire Farm, to name just a few) come regularly, supplemented by other artisans, such as bakers and artists, who rotate. “Our vendors are the best of the best,” Hawkins states proudly.
The market hosts an oyster roast on the first Saturday of each month in collaboration with Sea Eagle Seafood, whose owners bring fresh fish and shellfish from Beaufort every other week.
Folks are encouraged to have a beer when they visit, yet that’s not the whole point. “We are fostering the sense of community that results from so many of our farmers and makers working together to support one another,” says market manager Luanne Thayer. “The Toasty Farmer is meant to be a gathering place,” echoes McCameron, “a place to share fun and family and love.” And keep toasty warm to boot.
A few of our favorites at The Toasty Farmer:
Blue Ridge Creamery: Now Eastsiders don’t have to trek to Travelers Rest to purchase Christian Hansen’s delicious hand-crafted cheeses.
Bootleg Bakery: Vodka vanilla cupcakes with coffee Kahlua cream frosting as well as other confections that Kate Zerndt infuses with spirits from local Six & Twenty Distillery aren’t your grandma’s recipes.
Holmes Sweet Home: New to the market this year, Samotria Holmes began making caramel sauce for her mother. Now she shares her sweet sauce and nut brittle with Toasty customers.
Inglenook Soaps: Amy Moore’s masculine Urban 64 line includes soaps made with beer from local breweries.