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Farmers markets a lifeline for local farmers during the pandemic

Farmers are finding creative ways to help make a profit and also serve the community

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Farmers markets in the Midlands are helping farmers get through the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the hardest hit industries during the coronavirus pandemic has been farming.

Jason Roland is the owner of Organically Roland, a farm based in Lexington County.

During the pandemic, they've come up with creative ways to help make it through the pandemic. This includes their new home delivery box service.

"It's going really well. To be honest with you, we have a waiting list because we can only handle so much and there's a lot of demand for it and we're happy to see that growing," said Roland.

RELATED: Local farmers changing the way they operate due to coronavirus

Roland believes their home delivery service has been helpful, especially for senior citizens who have to stay at home so they can avoid exposure to the virus.

He says during the pandemic, they've lost about 15 to 20 percent of income they usually would have this time of year.

One of the other things they are focusing on are the farmers markets around the Midlands.

"We're in a food desert so a lot of the folks in the community, all they have is a dollar general and they don't have access to fresh fruits and vegetables," said Roland.

Roland believes events like the Pinehurst Farmers Market is making a difference for farmers in the Midlands.

"A lot more people buying locally since the pandemic started," explained Roland. "This market has increased by a lot. I would say at least 50-60 percent since the virus so we've been very happy to see that."

The Pinehurst Farmers Market happens every Wednesday from 1:30 pm until 3 pm on School House Road in Columbia.

Greg Brown with Greenleaf Farm is one of the other farmers who come to the Pinehurst Farmers Market. He says he was concerned at the beginning of the pandemic but the two or three farmers markets he's going to now has been helpful.

"Since (COVID-19) started my sales have pretty much doubled because most people are afraid to go to the grocery store with the crowds, things like that. We've been getting a lot more local interest here," said Brown.

April Jones, who runs the Pinehurst Farmers Market, says there's been a big increase in folks in the community buying local food.

"We've seen a really good increase, an excellent increase," explained Jones. "I think (COVID-19) has helped people get focused on things that are really important."

Jones says buying from local farmers turns into giving back into your community.

"It's about building your community and you're investing your dollars and those dollars are going farther in our community," explained Jones. "You're helping people pay their mortgages, their car notes. If they have kids or if they have older family members they have to take care of. You're helping them to secure their family which is really your family because we're all in this community together."

RELATED: South Carolina farmers helping food banks

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