Locavore: A person that eats foods primarily grown or produced in a 100 mile radius from where they live.

As of yesterday, spring is officially here. Over the last few weeks, I have been visiting farms to talk to the farmers their plans, their anxieties, and of course, to walk the remaining fields of winter crops in the company of bees seeking out plants bolting into flower. As if looking into the future of their season, I took a peek into the warm, humid greenhouses, giddy with excitement at the overflowing trays of lettuce, peas, beans, tomatoes, herbs, and flowers.

Pete Ambrose in his Greenhouse

The excitement is not just in the fields but spreading into the cities. Local residents are brightening up their yards with early blooms and filling their gardens with small seedling vegetables and herbs. Farmers Market managers are holding meetings to refresh the regulars and welcome in the huge flux of new vendors. March has already ushered in the Food and Wine Festival, the Kid’s Fair, College Spring Breaks, Gleanings, and soon the Carolina Yard/Gardening School. April will be filled with Earth Day events, the Chef’s Potluck, Clean City Sweep, and many other outdoor events.

Bogarden Workday March 19th, 2011

Locally, regionally, and nationally there has been a lot of focus on the small farmer, eating locally grown and produced products, and supporting local vendors. Following on the heels of the organic food wave, consumers are beginning to realize that there is more to food that how it is grown but where it is grown as well. The benefits of eating local produce/products, supporting a local economy, and having a connection to your food are becoming more understood, accepted, and appreciated. For Charlestonians, we are truly lucky to be in a city that has such a love affair with food and the growers/producers to support it.

Charleston boasts some of the South’s best chefs, farmers, food artisans, and markets. I am lucky enough to have spent the last few years in Charleston getting to know where to shop, who to buy from, where to eat, and how to get the best of the best in this wonderful southern city.

After many requests for advice regarding the local food movement in Charleston, I am finally compiling some of the information that I have discovered. Much of this information was taken from other website and simply compiled all together and I am grateful for LLF, USDA, and the PickYourOwn websites. Follow along as I take you on a step by step tour of what it takes to become a Locavore in Lowcountry.

Let us begin the journey to a more exciting, healthier, and tastier menu. The first step is to consider the season. Although your local grocery store may have a variety of produce year round does not mean that you can actually find watermelon in Charleston in February. If you do not see it at the farmers market, it is probably not growing in Charleston. There are a number of websites that will help you identify what is in season in your state during any given month, such as the SC Department of Agriculture’s Certified SC Grown’s: http://www.certifiedscgrown.com/ or Providence Produce’s website: http://www.providenceproduce.com/index-4.html.

The next step is actually acquiring the food. The only way to know exactly where your food came from and how it was grown is to grow it yourself. If you are a gardener or want to try your hand at growing your own produce, look for the zone on the back of the seed packets and plant according to the recommended months for your area. Consider purchasing vegetable/herb seedlings from the incredible selection at Sea Island Savory Herbs on Johns Island, especially if you are interested in heirlooms and non-traditional plants. If you don’t have a yard, consider container gardening or getting a plot at one of the community gardens in town.

If you are currently shaking your head because you know you will never have the time or energy to have a garden, have no fear. Because even if you have a yard or garden, it would be extremely difficult to supply all of your fruits and vegetables, much less everything else you need for your family such as eggs, pasta, grains, meat, milk, and cheese. The best way to get hold of these is to buy direct from local producers so your money goes straight to the source and you are guaranteed to get a fresher product. Direct purchasing can be done through Community Supported Agriculture shares, Farmers Markets, Farm Stands and U-pick.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA):

The best way to guarantee that you will have a steady supply of fresh local vegetables all season is to take part in Community Supported Agriculture or CSA. The CSA model allows for someone to purchase a share in the farm for a season and in return they receive a specific amount of produce/meat each week. Some farms have pick-up locations while others will deliver and most offer different size shares. It is important to think about purchasing a share before the season is in full swing so the farmers can plan according and plant enough for everyone. If it is your first time, I recommend getting a smaller share or splitting a share with a friend or neighbor until you are used to the process. In addition to produce, Charleston also has CSAs for seafood, beef, and other locally raised animal products. Who is currently offering a CSA in the Charleston Area? Check out the list below:

Abundant Seafood
Visit the website

Ambrose Family CSA Farm
Selkirk Plantation Road
Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487
Visit the website

Clammer Dave’s Sustainable Gourmet
1522 Macoma Road
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466
Visit the website

Cordray Farms (beef)
6708 County Line Rd
Ravenell, SC 29470
Visit the website

Cypress Artisan Meat Share
Visit the website

Green Grocer (Beef)
2463 Leadenwah Dr
Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487

Gruber Family CSA Farm
265 Old Bell Road.
St. George, SC 29477
843-563-1159 or 843-693-7069
Visit the website

Joseph Fields Farm CSA
3129 River Road
Johns Island, SC 29455

Legare Farms CSA
2620 Handscome Point Road
Johns Island, SC 29455

Marshview Organic Farm
12 Georgees Trail
Saint Helena Island, SC 29920

Our Local Foods CSA
P.O. Box 6
McClellanville, SC 29458
Visit the website

Pinckney’s Produce CSA
P.O. Box 229
Vance, SC 29163
Visit the website

Rosebank Farms CSA
4455 Betsy Kerrison Parkway
John’s Island, SC 29455
(843) 768-0508
Visit the website

Thackery Farm CSA
Wadmalaw, SC
(843) 559-9058

Farmers Markets:

Despite popular belief that the only Farmers Market in Charleston is in Marion Square, there are actually ten local farmers markets in the Charleston area where you can meet the producers face to face. From vegetables and fruit to beef and eggs, you can find just about everything at the local markets. See the listings below.

Awendaw Farmers and Fresh Seafood Market

Contact: Donna Smith
Address: Town Hall, 6971 Doar Rd, Awendaw, SC 29429
Hours Of Operation: 2nd Saturday if the month, 9:00 – Noon
Email: awendaw@tds.net
Telephone: 843-928-3100

Charleston Farmers Market
Facility Type: Open-Air
Contact: Karen Williams
Address: Marion Square at King St. & Calhoun St., Charleston, SC 29401
Hours Of Operation: Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Seasons Operation: April 9th-November
Programs Accepted: SFMNP – Senior Checks, WIC Vouchers
Email: farmersmarket@ci.charleston.sc.us
Telephone: 843-724-7309, 843-724-7309

Freshfields Village Farmers Market

Facility Type: Open-Air
Contact: Trish Pruitt
Address: Market Location: 149 Village Green Ln, Johns Island, SC 29455
Mailing Address: 130 Gardeners Circle, PMB 125, Johns Island, SC 29455
Directions: Crossroads of Kiawah, Seabrook, and Johns Island
Hours Of Operation: Monday 4:00 – 8:00 pm
Seasons Operation: June – August
Email: tpruitt@kiawahisland.com
Telephone: 843-768-6491, 843-768-6491
Fax: 843-768-6493
Web Site: http://www.freshfieldsvillage.com

James Island Presbyterian Church Farmers Market-Seeds of Hope

Facility Type: Open-Air
Contact: Donna Bryan
Address: Market Location: Ft. Johnson & Folly Rd., 1632 Ft. Johnson Rd., Charleston, SC 29412, Contact Mailing Address: PO Box 11349, Columbia, SC 29206
Contact: Henry Meeuwse
Hours Of Operation: Wednesday 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Friday 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Saturday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Seasons Operation: SEASONAL
Programs Accepted: SFMNP – Senior Checks, WIC Vouchers
Email: dhbryan@bellsouth.net
Telephone: Church: 843-795-3111

John Wesley United Methodist Church-Seeds of Hope

Facility Type: Open-Air
Contact: Donna Bryan
Address: 661 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407
Hours Of Operation: Saturday 8:00 a.m. – Noon
Seasons Operation: Seasonal, June to October
Programs Accepted: EBT/SNAP, WIC Vouchers
Telephone: Church # 843-766-5596

Mount Pleasant Farmers Market

Facility Type: Open-Air
Contact: Tracy Ritcher|
Address: Moultrie Middle School, Coleman Blvd. & Simmons St., Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
|Hours Of Operation: Tuesdays, 4 p.m. – dark
Seasons Operation: SEASONAL (April-October)
Programs Accepted: SFMNP – Senior Checks, WIC Vouchers
Email: trichter@townofmountpleasant.com
Telephone: 843-884-8517, 843-884-8517
Web Site: http://www.townofmountpleasant.com/index.cfm?section=11&page=6

MUSC Farmers Market

Facility Type: Open-Air
Contact: Annie Lovering
Address: 171 Ashley Ave., Charleston, SC 29401
Directions: Located in the Horseshoe
Hours Of Operation: Fridays 7:00 am-3:00 pm
Programs Accepted: SFMNP – Senior Checks, WIC Vouchers
Telephone: 843-792-1245, 843-792-1245

North Charleston/Hanahan Farmers Market

Facility Type: Open-Air/Covered
Contact: Belinda Swindler
Address: 4800 Park Circle, North Charleston, SC, Mailing Address: PO Box 190016, Dept. 700, N. Charleston, SC 29419
Hours Of Operation: Thursdays, 2 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Seasons Operation: SEASONAL
Programs Accepted: EBT/SNAP, SFMNP – Senior Checks, WIC Vouchers
Email: belindaswindler@yahoo.com
Telephone: 843-745-1028

Ralph H. Johnson Medical Center Farmers Market

Contact: Nancy Gannon
Address: 109 Bee St., Charleston, SC 29401
Hours Of Operation: Wednesdays 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Seasons Operation: April-December
Programs Accepted: SFMNP – Senior Checks, WIC Vouchers
Email: nancy.gannon@va.gov
Telephone: 843-789-7607, 843-789-7607

Town of Summerville Farmer’s Market:

Location: First Citizens Bank next to Town Hall.
Hours of Operation: 8am-until
Season: April-fall
Website: http://tinyurl.com/4v23oc8

Farm Stands/On-site Purchasing

Nothing compares to going straight to action and buying from the source. On-site purchasing and farm stands are another great direct connection to farm produce and are often open everyday, with hours beyond the months of the farmers markets.

Our Local Foods

10882 Highway 17
North McClellanville, SC 29458
(843) 887-3500

Boone Hall Farm

1235 State Road S-10-97
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464-9020
(843) 884-4371

The Tomato Shed/Stono Market/Ambrose Farm

842 Main Road
SC 29455
(843) 559-9999

Rosebank Farm Stand

Coming this summer!

(843) 768-9139

Fields Farm Stand

3129 River Road
John’s Island, South Carolina
(843) 559-3694

Tea Plantation

6617 Maybank Highway
Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487
(843) 559-0383

Irving House Vineyard

6775 Bears Bluff Road
Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487-6812
(843) 559-6867

Geechie Boy Market and Mill

2995 Hwy 174
Edisto Island, SC 29438

For those that are interesting in getting their hands dirty, there are a number of farms that allow people to pick produce directly from the farm at a lower cost. The following are a list of local u-pick farms:

Ambrose Family Farm

Follows organic practices, strawberries, pumpkins
2349 Black Pond Lane

Selkirk Plantation Road
Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487.
Phone: 843-559-0988.
Alternate Phone: 843-559-9999.

Email: ambrosecsa@stonofarmmarket.com.

Open: Monday to Saturday, from 9 am to 5 pm. During Strawberry Season, beginning April 15, Mon-Sat 9am to 5pm and Sunday 11am to 5pm for u Pick Strawberries.

Directions: Highway 700 (Maybank Highway) onto Wadmalaw Island. 7 miles from the Wadmalaw bridge turn right onto Liberia Road 1 mile exactly, left onto Selkirk Plantation Road Take an IMMEDIATE Left through the farm gate.

Boone Hall Farms Market – blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes,
2521 Highway 17 North,

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466.

Phone: 843-856-8154.

Alternate Phone: 843-856-5366.

Email: steve@boonehallfarms.com.

Open: U – Pick Open when available – Monday to Saturday 9am to 6pm Closed Sunday. Directions: Boone Hall Farms Market is located on Highway 17 North on the out skirts of Mt. Pleasant, S.C. 1/2 mile past Long Point Road.

Strawberries late April to early June Blackberries late June to mid July Blueberries late June to mid July Tomatoes mid June to August and late Sept to late October

Payment: Cash, Debit cards, Visa/MasterCard, Discover, AmEx.

Champney’s Blueberry Farm – blueberries, u-pick and prepicked

4492 Rose Drive,
Ravenel, SC 29470.
Phone: 843-763-6564.
Fax: 843-832-6052.

Email: champneysblueberries@gmail.com.

Open: from the first Saturday in June, Monday thru Saturday 9:00am til 8:00pm. Directions: From Citadel Mall take highway 17 south towards Savannah. Travel approximately 8 miles and you will see our sign on the right. It will be 1/2 mile south of the intersection of highway 17 and highway 162.

Payment: Cash, only. Prices in 2010: $8 per gallon bucket if you pick, $3 per pint if we pick.

Plantation U-Pick – Strawberries, Pumpkin Patch, Christmas Trees
Hwy. 17 N.,

Mt. Pleasant, SC.

Apr 1 – August 31 9 am to 6 PM.
Pumpkin Patch (August 5 – August 31)

Christmas Trees (Nov 27 – December 24)
Strawberries U-pick or We-pick (Apr 1 – June 10).

Local Distributors:

If you are unable to buy direct from one of the sources, consider supporting a store that purchases from local growers and producers. Items purchased locally are usually labeled but if you are not sure what is local, do not hesitate to ask! Here are the five major stores that are currently selling local goodies:

The Vegetable Bin

10 Society Street
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 723-6424

Queen Street Grocery (they have crepes too!)

133 Queen Street
Charleston, SC 29401-1950
(843) 723-4121

Books Herbs and Spices:

63 Spring Street
Charleston, SC 29403-5327
(843) 722-4747

Remedy Market:

162 C Spring St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 793-3003

Piggly Wiggly: Visit the website for a complete list of locations

Whole Foods: (look for the LOCAL tags on products)

923 Houston Northcutt Boulevard
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 971-7240


74 Folly Road Blvd
Charleston, SC 29407-7551
(843) 769-4800

Playing with your food:
Now that you have your food, what is next? There are two options: cook it or store it. If you are going to cook your vegetables but feel uninspired, consider purchasing a cookbook that lists recipes based on the produce or season rather than categorically so you can figure out what to do when tomato season leaves you overflowing with salsa. In addition, you can sign up for classes from Charleston Cooks that focus on local ingredients and even on what to cook with your CSA share.

If you want to extend the life of your produce or you have over-abundance, consider “putting-up” your food by freezing, pickling, preserving, or canning it. Local preserver and author Stephen Dowdney wrote the book “Putting up: A year round guide to canning in the Southern tradition” as well as “Putting up More” to help teach the Lowcountry how to make everything from chutney to pickled shrimp. If you are seeking a hands-on approach, Fields to Families has developed a Charleston CANs program to teach proper food handling, preparation and preservation that includes canning classes and private canning parties.

If you have read all this and it just sounds a little overwhelming, there is always the option of supporting restaurants and food vendors that use local ingredients instead. There are actually more than you would think in Charleston and it is not only high dollar restaurants downtown. Check out the SC Certified Grown Fresh on the Menu Members website to see a list of all of the registered restaurants purchasing SC grown produce: http://www.certifiedscgrown.com/FreshOnTheMenu/Members. Just know that there will be many restaurants that may not be registered and do not appear on the list.

As for my personal favorite producers and restaurants, here are a few to get you started: Med Bistro, Granville’s, Al Di La, Closed for Business, FIG, Husk, Taco Boy, Swamp Fox, Roti Rolls, Holy City Brewing, Hello My Name is BBQ, Roots Ice Cream, Diggity Doughnuts, Boulevard Diner, Savory, McCrady’s, Okra Grill, 17 North, Coast Brewery, and Queen Street Grocery.

Although it may take a little extra time and research at first, eating locally pays off in so many ways. Learning about the local vegetable, seafood, and meat seasons will help you to appreciate the basic systems that support our everyday life. Getting to know your farmer and local providers will help you to find food that healthier, fresher, tastier, and more socially responsible. And in the end, the money that is spent on local products goes directly back to the producers, helping to support a healthy local economy and ensuring that farmers can actually make a living providing for the community.

After you have enjoyed your first locavore meal, you will discover that going green has never tasted so good!

Written by Nikki