Various markers herald the start of summer—actual summer begins on June’s solstice, Memorial Day declares summer via pool openings, the ok to wearing white and the last day of school signals summer for many families. For me, however, summer begins when the various Waccamaw Farmers’ Markets open. This year that will be on May 2 (see below for complete schedule and list of locations). Waccamaw’s May opening is a time to celebrate the abundance and importance of locally grown produce and humanely raised beef, pork, lamb, eggs and even offerings of goat’s milk brought from the farm directly to the consumer.
One possible dark blot on this year’s bright, easy access to farm fresh food is the shadow of our past winter’s weather. The impact of those days of freeze that punctuated early warmth will be felt long into the 2017 growing season. Strawberry crops came through with partial damage in some fields, but now, as we approach the time of peaches and blueberries, two South Carolina staples we will feel the sting of that frost.
William J. Hardee III, Cooperative Extension Agent (Clemson Extension) for Georgetown and Horry Counties says, “Peaches and blueberries were devastated in the entire state.”
Miracle Lewis of Home Sweet Farm says, “We resale peaches and blackberries from local farms (at their Waccamaw stands) and yes, I do expect the prices of them to increase.” She expects the prices will not increase as much as the damage might indicate because of the competition in supermarkets from produce form farms in the western USA, which were not damaged.
Stephanie Fox, Communications Director of the South Carolina Department of Agriculture notes that the while the multi-million dollar peach industry in South Carolina has taken a blow, the taste of local fruit is worth it. “When fruit has to travel across the country, rather than just down the street, there is certainly a difference in taste. We hope that folks will continue to seek out and buy local fruits and veggies. I will be worth the extra effort.”
Of course, there is a lot more than fruit at the market stands. Lewis notes, ” This year we will be offering jams and jellies, honey, strawberries, onions, potatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, okra, sweet corn, cauliflower, cantaloupes, watermelons, peas, and beans.” Of course, not all of these will be available in May! Eggs will appear at the farm stands later in the summer and for folks who like the fun of pick-your-own, the Home Sweet Farm (located in Loris) puts is picking dates on Face book.
Ovis’ Charlie Caldwell says that in the opening week of the market, “Veggies should continue to look pretty much as they do now in this email and may see the first varieties of squash later in the month.” You can sign up for the Ovis email list by contacting them email@example.com .
Russell Singleton’s Sunny Cedar Farms’ heritage pork will make its first Waccamaw Market appearance of the season on May 5 at the North Myrtle Beach location. The bacon is amazing, as are the other pork products he offers.
Ovis Hill offers lamb, chicken, and beef as well as organic vegetables. They also bring fresh eggs (which usually sell out early) and goat’s milk to the market as well. (Goat’s milk must be pre-ordered by calling 843-992-9447).
Caldwell points out that patronizing famers’ markets is not only a delicious and healthful personal practice but also one that feeds the local economy at large. Speaking only of the ripple effect from Ovis Hill, Caldwell says, “Including our farm, there are at least twenty-two farms and related businesses (some seasonal) that put food and products on our tables. In addition, at least ten more individuals that help run our markets and farm. Considering how many families and individuals work with the farms, together we all help to at least 40 to 50 people earn their livelihood.” Multiply that by each stand at the market and the impact on the community is significant.
Many of the farmers who sell their produce through the Waccamaw Cooperative Markets also sell at other area markets as far away as Camden and Florence. In addition to the Waccamaw cooperative member efforts, a list of other area farm markets, like the Myrtle’s Market, and the Organic Market (with days and times of opening) can be found at http://grandstrand.happeningmag.com/update-at-farmers-market/
If you want more information on the Waccamaw markets or if you would like to sell your product at the market, contact Market Director, Samantha Tipton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2017 Waccamaw Market Schedule
Surfside Beach Farmers Market
Corner of Surfside Dr. & Willow Dr.
May 2 – Oct 31
Tuesdays 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Little River Farmers Market
4460 Mineola Ave.
May 3 – Oct 25
Wednesdays 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Carolina Forest Farmers Market
Carolina Forest Rec Center
2254 Carolina Forest Blvd.
May 4 – Oct 26
Thursdays 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
North Myrtle Beach Farmers Market
925 1st Ave. South
May 5 – Oct 27
Fridays 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Conway Farmers Market
Corner of Laurel Street and 2nd Ave.
May 6 – Oct 28
Saturdays 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Georgetown Farmers Market
122 Screven St.
May 6 – Oct 28
Saturdays 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
The Market Common Farmers Market
May 6 – Sep 30
Saturdays 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Myrtle Beach Produce
609 29th Avenue North
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Daily