By Carrie Hirsch

Coming late to the farmer’s market is like coming late to the party - most of the guests have left, the ice sculpture has melted and only a few wilted hors d’oeuvres remain on the platters. If you want to get the best of the bounty, arrive early and bring a tote bag or a backpack to carry your finds, which leaves your hands free to sample! You don’t want to be the one tussling over the very last stalk of rhubarb and making a scene…it’s just that you needed it for your strawberry and rhubarb pie!

Farmer’s markets have evolved into events with not only woven baskets brimming with organic seasonal vegetables, fruits and herbs but also now offer artisanal breads, grass-fed meats, free range poultry, eclectic honeys and jams, infused olive oils, fresh pastas and even prepared ethnic foods have become part of what many consider an integral part of their weekly shopping. The social aspect comes into play as well where both customers and farmers are on a first name basis with each other. Having a farmer in one’s corner can only enhance one’s dinner table! They know what shoppers are looking for and which customers will be open to trying greens like a popular kale so deep in color that it is almost black and teaming with rich nutrients and vitamins. It is known by many names including dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale, palm tree kale or black Tuscan palm.

Chefs aren’t the only ones who know how to prepare fruits and veggies - a farmer can also advise on how to best store and cook them. Do tomatoes belong on the counter or in the refrigerator? How do I know when this melon is ripe? How long do I cook my collard greens and do I leave in the spine or remove it? Take the advice of a farmer – you will be glad you did!

Sea Pines Farmers Market

71 Lighthouse Rd. • Sea Pines Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Local vendors will offer their produce and goods fresh from the farm to you!

Farmers Market of Bluffton

Calhoun St. • Old Town Bluffton Thursdays 2-7 p.m.
Fresh produce, plants, prepared foods, live entertainment, children’s programs,
educational opportunities and chef demonstrations.

Buffalo’s Farmer’s Market

11 Village Park Square • Palmetto Bluff Sundays
11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Fresh produce, eggs and upscale oils, jarred sauces, dips and chips and more.