Yes, folks, this picture is of the City Market in Savannah, which was torn down in the mid 1950s and sat in what is now Ellis Square. This market was a vital part of the income for many of the truck farmers in Effingham County. A few farmers sold a little from their farms or shipped products by rail, but most sold their vegetables, etc., in Savannah at the market.
Farmers raised beans, corn, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, beans, cucumbers, peas, butterbeans, peppers, watermelons, cantaloupes, dasheens, Jerusalem artichokes, peanuts, pecans, fruits and tomatoes. As each item came into season the farmer prepared his items for sale, washing and packing them into crates and baskets. Corn was loaded into the truck and carefully spread so as not to get heated and sour. Eggs were packed in crates and cane syrup was bottled or canned.
The farmer came to the market and drove into the structure which had a tile floor that could be washed down and cleaned. For a fee they got a stall or area to sell their wares. My father recalls going with his father, Leon Exley, to market. They would spend the night napping with the produce in the truck. Some regulars had stalls and kept store all year long.
Effingham farmers usually came in for a day and overnight until they sold their vegetables and fruits that were in season. Sometimes they would sit and shell some of the peas or beans offering them to the market shoppers at a little higher price. It gave them something to do while waiting between customers. They looked out for each other, selling the wares of the adjoining stall if a farmer had stepped away for a bit. Eggs, syrup and some dairy items were sold at the market.Cured meats were sometimes available. All this was dependent on the rules for the market at the time.
Customers came to know the farmers and looked forward to purchasing produce from their favorite farmer based on the quality of their previous sale. Freshness was a key to success on the market. Not only did restaurants and commercial grocers shop here, but also wealthy housewives or their domestic help shopped for food for their homes as did the poor common man. The market was a beehive of activity and could be a very noisy place.
It is a shame that the city market was torn down and no longer exists in Savannah. The building itself was a beautiful structure. For a short while, another market operated at the foot of the viaduct on Bay Street in Savannah. The current farmer’s market was established and is regulated through the state of Georgia and is still operated in Garden City off Highway 80. Although not as lively as it once was, there is still activity there with retail and wholesale operations handling produce from near and far.
In Effingham County, we no longer ship rail cars of potatoes, melons or artichokes. We do have a fruit stand or two and a few pick your own berries or pumpkins farms. A few farmers still produce for commercial sale. Some offer fresh produce grown onsite or nearby with the experience of seeing an operating farm. Special hayrides and pickings can be arranged for groups of persons. Scuffletown has Heritage Organic Farm offering an organic option to the consumer. Seasonal produce boxes adapted by availability of the seasonal vegetables and fruit are a new novel market in Effingham by a few vendors. Blueberries are also offered at pick your own patches by several independent growers in Effingham.
Sometimes things come back around. We saw Effingham very dependent on farming, including truck farming, in the early half of the last century. More people became employed in industry perhaps growing a garden for their own use. As time moved forward, their garden became the rows of produce in our local supermarkets. Much of this is shipped in from other parts of our country and even from overseas.
Farming of timber, corn, soybeans, peanuts and cotton now dominate Effingham farm production. We are seeing hard times and the average family is beginning to grow a garden again. People are getting back to basics and want quality and a variety produce economically affordable for their family to consume. Many are canning their homegrown produce. We now see farms again becoming popular with a variety of seasonal produce available for sale in Effingham.
When this article was written a Springfield Farmer’s Market was planned for Oct. 22 adjacent to the Fairgrounds at the Methodist Campground. It has been cancelled by the sponsors with less than a week’s notice. You will find several vendors who had signed up relocated to the "Sale along the Trail in Guyton" on Saturday beginning at 8 a.m. Come find an Effingham favorite like raisin bread or pickles, jellies and lots more along the Trail.
Error: Last week in the photo with the teachers, the woman identified as Melvina Campbell was her mother, Mrs. Campbell, who taught at Effingham Academy and was the wife of Principal M. P. Campbell.
This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org