Part I: Farmers and Growers

Photos by Seldon Ink

Louis and Kit Bruce

Farmers markets everywhere are hotter than one of our searing Lodge cast iron skillets. We’re big long-time fans of everything about the farmers market concept and we’ve been to more than four dozen farmers markets across the country and around the world. Now that spring has sprung, we couldn’t wait to DISH it out on our very own Port Royal Farmers Market — in two tasty parts in our early-March and -April DISHes.

“Farmers markets serve as vibrant community hubs that showcase the rich tapestry of local farmers and independent producers,” says Charisse R. McGill, executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to working with farmers market operators to strengthen farmers markets across the United States so that they can serve as community assets while providing real income opportunities for farmers.

The Farmers Market Coalition is driven by three complementary goals (they call it their triple bottom line): Farmers earn fair

Tuten Farms

prices for the fruits of their labor by selling directly to consumers. Consumers gain access to fresh, nutritious, local produce. Communities regain a figurative “town square,” experiencing the many positive outcomes of foot traffic and community connection.

Our Port Royal Farmers Market certainly hits a three-bagger when it comes to this triple bottom line. And, for us and hundreds more, our farmers market is a home run for the community, thanks to the farmers and other vendors, consumers like us who support them, and the “town square” atmosphere where, “Meet me at the Farmers Market,” literally (and tastily) connects the community.

Myers Family Farm egg sandwiches

Before we cover the market’s many “Farmers and Growers” in Part One of this two-part DISH series (Part Two in April will cover “Food Vendors”), we wanted to provide a little history about a little farmers market that grew into a very big deal.

According to our friend and Port Royal Farmers Market founder, Kit Bruce, the Market was founded around 2007 and was originally located at Port Royal Elementary School and, then, for a brief period at Anchor Park on Port Royal’s Paris Avenue. Kit recalls that those early markets featured just five or so vendors!

A few years later, the Port Royal Farmers Market moved to its current location in Naval Heritage Park at the corner of Ribaut Road and Pinckney Boulevard. There are now typically 25 to 30 farmers and vendors on any given Saturday, though there are obviously less in the dead of winter, versus spring to fall. On any given Saturday, it’s also very likely Kit will be at the market, along with her trusty sidekick and hubby, Louis.

Of the Market, Kit says, “I grew up eating locally and seasonally. I started the Market because I wanted to know where my food was coming from.”

Kendra and Stephen Myers of Myers Family Farms speak for Kit and many farmers, growers, food vendors, and more Market friends when Kendra says, “Our favorite part of the market has been how many friends we’ve gained in the community come Saturday mornings. We started with our happy hens’ eggs ten years ago and added fresh bagels and pretzels two years later, with our popular bagel sandwiches on the menu the following year, which were originally cooked two at a time on a Coleman grill. What were once customers are now friends.”

“Being part of the Port Royal Farmers Market has truly been a blessing for us, far beyond just having a venue at which to sell our

mushrooms,” says Pam McLure of LC Shrooms fame. “For us, it has become like an extended family. From the first Saturday we set up our tent three years ago, we received the warmest welcome from other vendors and the wonderful community of Market-goers.”

We’re also fervent friends of the Market community and go there pretty much every weekend we’re in town. It’s open from 9am to noon every Saturday year-round, which is unusual for many farmers markets, in that many are seasonal.

As mentioned, we’re going to cover a lot of ground (dare we say dirt?) on our farmers market in two parts, starting with “Farmers and Growers.” Next month, we’ll cover “Food Vendors.” Here goes:

*Adam’s Farm & Gardens: Like several folks at the Market, we count Steve and Debbie Mentzer and their son Adam as friends. We love everything Adam and crew grow and sell, and we’ve learned to love several unique (to us) veggies (and recipes from them) thanks to the extended “Adam’s Family.” Their seasonal produce (and people) are perennial Market faves for us and many others.

*Baker’s Nursery: Yemassee-based Baker’s Nursery is a Market regular, offering a limited number of plants and limitless knowledge most Saturday mornings. As with many Market regulars like us, meeting them at the Market led to several outings to their sprawling and well-stocked Yemassee base.

*Bonsai Den: We’re dipping our green-ish thumbs (and toes) in the world of bonsai, thanks to the Bonsai Den being in the

Whippoorwill Farms

“house” come Market day.

*Brant Family Farm: We’ve gotten to know Don and Susan Brant and their tasty offerings by way of a college connection and we now pretty much buy whatever’s at their table (before they run out). Think very tasty veggies, eggs, and more…trust us.

*Buddy Roe Shrimp: We also count captain John Payne and his smiling wife and Saturday shrimp seller, Maryanne, as Market friends. Because we started asking about John’s bycatch of squid many years ago, Maryanne calls us her “squids” friends. Their “no preservatives” shrimp is simply some of the best we’ve ever had, and we’re obviously not alone—we often make Maryanne our first Market stop, before she runs out of their tasty crustaceans.

*Carolina Kidz: Officially known as J and J Carolina Kidz Nigerian Goat Farm, the Carolina Kidz Market booth is unofficially the most popular stop for kids (and kids at heart). Along with everyone getting to pet, cuddle, hold, and feed a goat, cheese lovers swear by getting ahold of any of their cheeses, including feta, our current Carolina Kidz fave.

*Daise Produce: Situated on St. Helena Island, Otis Daise sells popular okra, squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, greens, carrots, and much more to his loyal following.

*Gruber Farms: Located just south of St. George, the Gruber family has been farming since 1948, when current owner Stanley Gruber’s father began full farming operations.

*HD Farm: We love looking at HD Farm’s varied offerings come Saturday and peering into one or more coolers to see what might be for supper at Seldon Scene. Their pasture-raised pork made us two of the Market’s earliest HD Farm fans, but we now also love their lamb and chicken as well.

*Fili-West Farms: “Chicken Lord” Nathan Boggs is co-owner and -operator of Vance-based Fili-West, along with his wife and fellow farmer, Ghie, who he met in the Philippines (thus the company name, Fili-West). They feature delectable eggs, popular poultry (chicken and turkey, including tasty sausages using both meats), pet foods, and more. Their bustling booth also carries offerings from Lowcountry Creamery and Solo Verdi Grass Fed Beef. Lowcountry Creamery features fresh, handcrafted, small batch, slow-pasteurized, and minimally processed whole milk that’s rich and creamy is Lowcountry Creamery’s calling card, but there’s also buttermilk, chocolate whole milk, crème fraiche, and Greek and Swiss yoghurt. Solo Verdi Market grass-fed offerings often include ground beef, steaks, roasts, stew beef, beef bone broth, tallow, organ meat, dog treats, and more. Their cattle are never exposed to grains, synthetic fertilizers, or pesticides, and there’s no confinement, no antibiotics, and no hormones. Ever.

The Dumpling Lady

*LC Shrooms: Spanish Point-based LC Shrooms and the McClure family love their mushrooms and so do loyal customers like us who are happy to occasionally stand in line, chat with others about ‘shroom recipes, and then buy our fill of mushroom options from Pam McLure, including king trumpet, golden oyster, blue oyster, chestnut, lion’s mane, beech, Italian oyster, pink oyster, and shiitake. We also love learning mushroom lore and more from Pam, including tasty recipes. “I love seeing our regular customers return each week and hearing about the new dishes they made with our mushrooms or how our mushrooms helped convert a fungi-averse family member,” says Pam. “What better way to connect with your community than through really good food!”

*Marshview Farm: Thanks to a variety of produce (we love their greens and more) and varied cuts of frozen goat meat (which tastes great), Marshview always seems to have something for supper. Mr. Mack, who worked for Penn Center for 26 years, grew up on St. Helena, and now farms the same land as his grandfather farmed.

*Myers Family Farms: With their farm-fresh offerings, Kendra and Stephen Myers (and friend and farmhand extraordinaire, Josh Howard, plus three-year-old Abraham) make for a regular Saturday morning stop for us and many others. Featuring free-range eggs, homemade bagels and pretzels, shitake mushrooms (sometimes), fresh-pressed juices, and very popular breakfast sandwiches made-to-order (more about these Market faves in Part Two), it’s worth the occasional wait. Happy hens make

Calibogue Catering

healthy eggs…and friends!

*Penny Acre Microgreens: We’ve always loved the varied microgreens from Ridgeland’s Penny Acre and they now have an enthusiastic new owners in Gabriel and Melissa Padron. Generally grown on a weekly basis, they grow up to 20 or so hydroponic microgreens, including nutrient-packed possibilities like: broccoli, kale, rainbow radish, spinach, wheatgrass, rainbow mix, pea shoots, salad mix (as well as spicy and extra spicy), watercress, kalafetti, and more.

*Rollen’s RAW Grains: Whenever we see someone standing at the Rollen’s RAW Grains learning their story, we can’t help stopping and singing the praises of their Carolina gold rice, Carolina gold rice grits, and much more. Based in Hardeeville and now with their own great store when we just can’t wait until Saturday, their unique heritage grains can completely change a dish.

*Slow Road Farm: Owned by one of the “three sisters” (see below), Priscilla Coleman, and her hubby, Buddy, Okatie-based Slow Road Farm features beautiful mushrooms, produce, and organically grown flowers.

*Three Sisters Organic Farm: Yeap, Bluffton-based Three Sisters Organic Farm is owned and operated by three sisters. Beth Lee, Mary Connor, and Priscilla Coleman grew up on the farm, and while they share the bond of sisterhood, they also share a commitment to preserving the land, protecting the environment, and cultivating products of the highest quality for the surrounding community. At the farm, they grow a wide variety of certified organic vegetables, berries, herbs, flowers, sugarcane, indigo, and mushrooms. They also maintain a small flock of pastured laying hens. Kit tells us it’s extra-hard to become organic and Three Sisters is the Market’s only organic farm.

*Tuten Farms: Larry Tuten and his friendly Hampton crew are Saturday stalwarts and so are we when it comes to seeing what Larry has on offer. Suffice to say that we’ll try (and likely already have) any produce that Larry grows at Tuten Farms.

* Whippoorwill Farms: Almost ten years ago, Marissa Paykos and her husband, James Young, turned a 40-acre plot of raw land in Ridgeland into the most wonderful Whippoorwill Farms. One of the newest Market farmers, this regenerative farm brings small batches of lettuce, greens, radishes, tasty bok choy, and more to the table, and we’ve quickly become big fans.

*Wimbee Creek Farm: The colorful Wimbee Creek Farm booth features seasonal flowers and arrangements that last a long time. They’re a great addition to the kitchen counter or a supper table filled with tasty purchases from the Market. In addition to farm visits, workshops, and special events, the Seabrook-based farm has added a garden center, complete with potted plants, gifts, books, supplies, and tools.

There are also some more farmers and growers who are only at the Market seasonally, thanks to what they offer. With apologies to any we missed (including in the long overview of offerings above), seasonal options can include juicy Big Smile Premium Peaches, satsumas from Franklin’s Citrus Farm, and world-class local pecans from Brickyard Point Farms. For those who need a sharp knife to cut up all of their purchases, we love getting our knives sharpened with the Sharper Edges guy when he’s at the Market.

Among many Market happenings, Kit has also added live music, the popular “Lunch & Learn” programs (we love these), DAYLO’s Teddy Bear Picnic read-aloud (in collaboration with the Pat Conroy Literary Center), Santa Claus appearances, and a popular weekly email newsletter that we’ve enjoyed receiving for years, in that it highlights who and what will be at the Market come Saturday.

So, that’s our rundown of the “farmers and growers” (and more) at the Port Royal Farmers Market. Next month, we’ll feature the varied “Food Vendors” (and more).


Port Royal Farmers Market

Naval Heritage Park (Ribaut Road & Pinckney Boulevard)

Year-round every Saturday, 9am-noon



Beaufort-based travel journalists Lynn and Cele Seldon ( often cover culinary travel around the world and Lowcountry Weekly lured them to write a monthly feature covering the local food scene. This includes articles about restaurants, chefs, food-focused stores, farms, farmers, farmers markets, and more. They welcome suggestions for topics.