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Monday, April 3, 2017

Choose Your Own Adventure: Lowcountry farmers markets

To market, to market to buy a fat hog

Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Mon, Apr 3, 2017 at 3:31 PM

click to enlarge Kate Waddell designed this year's Charleston and West Ashley Farmers Market posters - CITY OF CHARLESTON
  • City of Charleston
  • Kate Waddell designed this year's Charleston and West Ashley Farmers Market posters
Greetings carrot shoppers. The long anticipated wait is over. You can buy your heirloom tomatoes and purple potatoes out in the open once more with the return of the Charleston Farmers Market this weekend.

Saturday at 8 a.m. Marion Square will once again be filled with farmers, food trucks, and one too many screen-printed baby onesies. And that's great news. Nothing heralds spring like some good ol' fashioned radish shopping.

Of course, Marion Square's farmers market isn't for everyone. There's the parking issue to begin with and the crush of bodies, many with strollers and dogs, that can be a turn off to some (not me, more dogs and babes, please). So what do you do if you're down to peruse pattypan squash but don't want the suffocating Charleston Farmers Market side effects? I give you my guide to Charleston's Farmers Markets.

If you need to entertain a toddler but also want to buy dank cheese:

Johns Island Farmers Market
Granted you're probably only going to roll out to the Johns Island Farmers Market if you live out there, but if you're headed for a beach day at Kiawah's Beachwalker Park, consider stopping. The Johns Island Farmers Market — which is open year-round — recently moved from Maybank Highway to Charleston Collegiate campus (2024 Academy Rd.) and it's made things all the better. Now there's more parking, more space, and even a small covered patio with picnic tables where shoppers can pause and listen to the various entertainment. Another bonus for those with kids, this is a super family friendly environment. The organizers have even created a kids play area with a variety of toys and it basically becomes a baby rave around 11 a.m. As for the vendors, this past weekend some of my personal faves were on site — Counter Culture Cheese, Root Baking Co. and Wishbone heritage farm. This market begins at 10 a.m. each Saturday.

If with a a buzz is the only way in hell you're shopping for tomatoes:

Sunday Brunch Farmers Market
If you like your produce shopping laid back with a cocktail, stop at the Pour House on Sunday. From 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., the back of PoHo fills up with vendors, the music gets pumping live from the deck stage, and the bar opens for business. This is by far the area's most eclectic market and it's important to note that it's heavy on the artisan vendors, less so on produce options. Perhaps that will change as the spring season progresses, but pickins were slim when I swung by on the 25th. That said, for Sunday funday, this is the spot.

If a King of Pops popsicle is the only thing that can assuage your road rage:

Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market
If you have to make the mad dash through Mt. P's rush hour traffic, you might as well take one night of the week and avoid it at this Tuesday farmers market. It starts up again this week at 3 p.m. and runs until 7 p.m. In my experience all the good stuff you can find downtown typically shows up in Mt. P too. That includes purveyors like Owl's Nest Plantation which sells some of the best veggies in the area. As a bonus, Clemson Extension Master Gardeners are often on hand to give tips for your own home garden.

If you like your eggs to come with a sweet side of smooth tunes:

North Charleston Farmers Market
You're gonna have to wait a bit if you want to shop at the North Charleston Farmers Market. It doesn't return to the Felix C Davis Community Center (4800 Park Circle) until May 4. However, the City of North Charleston has plenty planned out. In fact you can check out the entire entertainment lineup for 2017 here.

If you really need your toddler to pass out:

Summerville Farmers Market
When I'm tired of doing the same old Marion Square market run, or I just desperately need my son to take a nap, I throw him in the car and head up 26 to Summerville's Farmers Market. By the time we get there he's rested and we can enjoy what I think is arguably the Lowcountry's best market. The beauty of Summerville's (200 South Main St.) market is it has what I find to be the greatest amount of actual produce. Plus, there are meat vendors like Keegan-Filion, egg vendors like Sunny Cedar Farms, fish vendors, and more. It's family friendly, though the asphalt set up can be brutal mid-July.

If Fido is your co-pilot in all things, especially twee shopping:

West Ashley Farmers Market
The latest addition to the farmers market scene and comes with the bonus of a neighboring dog park so you can trot your pup then shop it up. The West Ashley market opens on Wed. April 19 and runs from 3-7 p.m. I have yet to visit this spot, but Music Editor Kelly Rae Smith attests that it's a good time with live music, plenty of produce and artisan vendors, and jump castles during the holidays.

If you like to be the first to tell everyone about new things:

Nano Farmers Market
This brand spanking new spot opens this Thursday at 4 p.m. at 1444 Folly Rd. We know next to nothing about it, but that's all the more reason to check it out, no?

Happy shopping.

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