Erin Elledge, Hartselle Farmers Market
1. What is your history in Hartselle and with your business?
Hartselle is my hometown. After graduating from Hartselle High School, I continued my education at Calhoun Community College, then went to Auburn University where I finished my graduate studies with a degree in Human Resource Management. A week after graduation I moved to a small town in Montana where I discovered my passion for Farmers Markets. Their Thursday Night Farmers Market was packed full of variety: live music, food trucks, children’s activities hosted by the library, local artisans, fresh produce, flowers and so much more. It was like a small Depot Days every week and it felt as if the whole town would gather together in support of their fellow neighbors. My time in Montana taught me the importance of community support and engagement. I slowly fell in love with the idea of living in a small town where I could “put down roots” so I packed up and moved back to Hartselle. Inspired by my love of the market and desire for a close-knit community I started Sunwise Flowers alongside my fiancé Forrest Burleson on the Burleson Family’s land. Together we sell flowers and vegetables, as well as fresh homemade sourdough bread at the Hartselle Farmers Market. My new passions led me to become the Hartselle Farmers Market Manager and I look forward to watching it grow.
2. What is your history with the HACC and with the ambassador program?
The Chamber so kindly helped connect me to the local Farmers Market when I first moved back to Hartselle. This is my first year as a HACC Ambassador and I already feel more informed about what is happening throughout town. I hope that as an Ambassador I can continue to bond with our active community members and help others connect to Hartselle the way the chamber helped me.
3. What is good with your business?
The Hartselle Farmers Market is a beautiful open-aired pavilion gifted by Scott Stadthagen. The Hartselle High School Ag Class, led by Kyle Woodard, built our market’s beautiful tables out of wood donated by Corum’s Building and Farm Center. Our market is the only market in the area that lets vendors sell for free, which allows them to keep all their profits, this is made possible by the City and especially Hartselle Parks and Recreation directed by Tom Chappell. The Market is located on 208 Sparkman street right in the downtown area. Our business is all about helping our local growers, bakers, and crafters succeed by providing them a space to connect with the community as well as advertising their products for them. The increasing demand for more sustainable, locally grown produce can only be good for our business.
4. What is hard with your business?
The hardest part about growing the Farmers Market is attracting large growers and large farms in the area to give the Hartselle market a chance. In years past, the market crowd dwindled down and as we try to rebuild the market's reputation, we need the support of the grower, and most of all, the consumer. If the market is going to truly grow, then the community will have to show up to support it.
5. What is the greatest opportunity for growth?
More community engagement is our greatest opportunity for growth. By that I mean, more market visitors on Saturday, more activities for children and families, more local art/craft vendors present at the market, more volunteers, etc. I work hard to keep our social media pages up to date however there is always room for more advertising, especially by word of mouth. If we can get the word out to large growers that the demand here in Hartselle is stronger than ever, I believe that the community will show up to support them and together the Hartselle Farmers Market will grow.
Cindy Davidson – Journeys by Design
Jenny Denton – Habitat for Humanity
Erin Elledge – Hartselle Farmer’s Market
Bettye English – Hartselle Historical Society
Andrea Hatfield – Inline Lighting and Electric
Page Holifield – State Farm, Junior League, and the Prayers for Kayleigh Foundation
Sandy Johnson – Individual Member & Hartselle Historical Society
Kimberley Lewis – Angel Keepers
Carrow McClendon – Prayers for Kayleigh Foundation
Kelly McIntyre – Columbia Cottages
Larry Murphree – Individual Member & Hartselle Camp Meeting
Kerry Richardson – Main St. Mortgage
Nancy Busby Solburg – Individual Member & Civitan Club
Nikki Tallent – Habitat for Humanity
Debra Watson - Daystar Church
Donna Watson - Hartselle First Assembly of God
Jimmie Watson – Hartselle First Assembly of God
Jennifer Williams – Junior League & Kiwanis