Meet Me at the Farmer's Market
April 2021 Issue
Story and Photography by Lindsay Gifford
Fun, infectious cheer delightfully mixed with
enlivening fresh air as you frolic among the oaks...
did that just describe your last visit for groceries? It did mine!
Nestled in the center of Port Royal, outside the Naval Hospital, you’ll find beautiful Naval Heritage Park. Its oak-filled space and tranquility is inviting throughout the week, but come Saturday morning, the park takes on a complete transformation. It’s a weekly event you don’t want to miss—The Port Royal Farmer’s Market. Stocked with vendors (but safely spread out for social distancing), you’ll find tables laden with beautiful fruits and vegetables, homemade baked goods and steaming fresh food. And best of all, whether they’re beaming with pride, or buyers excited to purchase healthful and homemade goods, you’ll find passion-filled people.
I’ve been to my fair share of farmer’s markets, and I may be biased, but I’ve found the Port Royal Market to be one of the best. The variety and quality of goods is hard to beat. Each vendor can proudly tell you about a product that is not just an item they sell, but also something they’ve grown or handmade. They can tell you where it began, where it was rooted and that it was plucked with care, often that very morning. In fact, I ran into friend and cookbook author Pat Branning at the market just last week, and she said, “Isn’t this absolutely wonderful? I’m so excited I found out about it. I’m going to be here all the time.”
Words that you’ll often hear as you meander around the market are: local, sustainable, seasonal, all-natural, pesticide-free, organic, picked yesterday or this morning. Most (if not all) of the vendors are small, family-owned and operated. One of my most notable experiences was purchasing a cantaloupe last year. I was smelling the root to see how sweet it was when the vendor walked over. He said, “Do you like them mild or sweet?” I quickly answered sweet, and then he asked when I planned to cut it. What? That makes a difference? In a couple days, I answered. He grabbed a different melon, and said as he handed it to me, “This one will be perfect when you’re ready for it.” You won’t find many places like that. And, by the way, it was a perfect!
Now, it would behoove me to make sure you know the farmer’s market isn’t just about farmers—shocking, I know. There’s much more to enjoy, like a steaming bowl of she crab soup or the heavenly handmade dumplings that are one of my favorites. Usually, there’s a wraparound line for homemade bagels so fresh they’re still warm as you take a bite, not to mention the pizzas, southern specialties and, of course, sweets. Cheerful floral arrangements and seasonal plants brighten the booths, birds of prey are on display for people to meet and interact with, and you may even get to pet a baby goat, if you’re lucky.
The air is filled with inspiration, for your next meal, next garden project, or even next food splurge. The feeling is catching! A favorite for locals and visitors alike, the market is a great place to meet friends and get the weekend started off right. It’s a rare Saturday morning that I don’t run into at least five people I know. You can catch up at the picnic tables while you grab a morning cup of joe, or wander the market looking for your next find. Families enjoy bringing their children along and teaching them the value of their food and what it takes to grow it.
Despite my love affair with sleeping late on the weekends, I find myself dressed and ready to go by 8:45 sharp in order to arrive in time to secure my most favored purchases. I wait in line patiently for fresh pasta, often talking with others about which items are favorites, how to cook them, and saying, “Oh, you should try this flavor.” Of course, by the time I reach the table, I’m ready to try out a new flavor, along with my tried-and-true butternut squash ravioli.
It’s a wonderful experience each week, and while I do supplement my market groceries with ones from the store, the selections at the market inspire me to get more creative with my cooking. Why not try a new, unique cheese or plant a beautiful camellia to enjoy every day? The Port Royal farmer’s Market truly boosts your spirit. So grab your family and friends, or enjoy some “me time” when Saturday rolls around...it’s time to head to the market!
Port Royal Farmer’s Market
Every Saturday 9 am - noon, Rain or Shine
Naval Heritage Park, Port Royal, SC
- Bring a bag along for your purchases
- An easy-to-carry cooler is great for cold purchases.
- Bring cash, if possible; it’s faster and more convenient. Cards are accepted at most vendors.
- Hit your favorite vendor first!
- The early bird gets the worm... items move fast.
- Masks are required and social distancing is in place (as of writing this).
- Dogs aren’t allowed
Farmers & Growers
Three Sisters Farm
Brant Family Farm
Brickyard Point Farms
Keegan - Filion Farm
Gruber Family CSA Farm
"Buddy Roe" Shrimp
Wimbee Creek Farm
Walnut Hill Acres
All Things Fungi
Carolina Kidz: Goat Farm
Meyers Family Farm
Fire & Rice Lowcountry Paella
Hank's Lowcountry She Crab Soup & Crab Cakes
Sprout Momma Breads
Two Smart Cookies
Rio Bertolini Pasta
Brickyard Point Honey
Palmetto Kettle Corn
To learn more about each vendor, visit www.portroyalfarmersmarket.com