Monday, May 04, 2015
By Susan A. Sistare, produced in cooperation with the HubCity Writers Project.
On Saturday mornings, I am in Heaven.
The memory of being dragged to the farmers’ market to buy turnips (yuck) and Brussels sprouts (double yuck!) as a child makes me realize that I must have indeed become an adult. Now I love the Farmers’ Market!
Spartanburg’s Hub City Farmers’ Market is simply my favorite place to spend a Saturday morning, especially after they moved to the new permanent location on Howard Street, Northside Harvest Park, just past the VCOM medical school. The train depot on Magnolia Street holds a lot of great memories for me (the adult me, that is), but the Northside Harvest Park location just improved upon something that was already great.
You don’t even have to love vegetables to enjoy a morning there. While most of the twenty to thirty vendors have a lovely green leafy display, you can also find Little River Roasting Company coffee, Chef Bill McClellan’s award-winning cheesecake and chili, Blue Moon Specialty Foods’ pimento cheeses and great sauces (I highly recommend the Voodoo Chutney), local eggs and beef, and a variety of homemade things such as soaps, candles and bowls. And in the summer … peaches, galore!
The market is open on Saturdays from 8-noon, and on Wall Street (just off Morgan Square in downtown Spartanburg) on Wednesdays from 11-1 p.m., May through September. Northside Harvest Park is a great place for rentals for parties and other events. There is also the mobile market, whose trucks often can be seen at the library headquarters. One also can book the mobile market for a special occasion. I might just book it for my next birthday party! (I’m not joking.)
Another thing that makes the Hub City Farmers’ Market a can’t-miss destination (aside from the new BCycle station) is a lovely new café. The Monarch Café is located right there at the market, and they mostly cook with products from the market vendors. This is great news for people interested in purchasing fresh, locally grown and organic food. It’s not only a wonderful temporary respite from the hot or cold weather, but the fried fish and grits are unlike anything I have ever tasted. (I overheard one customer say, “These grits are bangin’.” I concur.)
And where else in town can you get deviled eggs?
The Monarch is open weekdays, from 8-5pm and on Saturdays during the market. The menu is flexible, but there is almost guaranteed to be a fresh salad, panini, or quiche ready for you. “We’re off to a great start. It’s wonderful to see not only people from Spartanburg come out and support us, but a lot of folks from out of town, too,” said Liberty Canzater, director of the Butterfly Foundation of Spartanburg, a community development organization that operates the café. You can learn more about this wonderful initiative at www.butterflysc.org.
But what if I want to have my own booth at the market, you ask? I asked that same question, as someone who dabbles in the art of growing sprouts and wheat grass. Usually a booth is around $30 for a Saturday. You can go to www.hubcityfm.org for more information.
I never dreamed when I was a kid that my adult self would be steaming fresh kale and kohlrabi, and chopping up bok choy and leeks for a salad, all with local food that I got at the Farmers’ Market. It’s no longer double yucky! It’s fantastic! And it never hurts to throw a little Voodoo chutney on the side.
And if you’re up for a whole farmers’ market tour of Spartanburg County, well, you’re in luck—there two others. The Cowpens market, located on the South Main Street inside a very cool former hardware supply house, is open February through December, 10-3 p.m. and has local artisans in addition to sellers of fruits and veggies. The Landrum farmers market is open at 111 North Trade Street May through October, 7-11am. This is where you hook up with C-Saw Hill, producers of local grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork and chicken.
So make a day of it and visit all three!
Susan A. Sistare, Produced in cooperation with the HubCity Writers Project.
Susan A. Sistare is a local author, skydiver, and teacher. She lives in Spartanburg with four cats and too many roommates.