COLUMBIA — Who wouldn’t love juicy red strawberries, sweet watermelons, refreshing cucumbers, ripe peaches, fresh butter beans or vibrant basil? It’s that time of year again in South Carolina. Specialty crop farmers are growing and harvesting fresh food to feed their communities across the state.
“Our farmers worked hard to sustain us through the pandemic, and in 2021, I hope South Carolinians will show them some love,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers. “You can support local farmers by choosing Certified South Carolina foods at the grocery store and farmers market and seeking out Fresh on the Menu restaurants.”
“Everybody has a favorite preacher and mechanic, but they need to find their favorite farmer,” said Josh Johnson of Old Tyme Bean Co., an Elloree farmer and chair of the South Carolina Specialty Crop Growers Association.
“When you support your local agricultural community, you’re not only investing in the future but providing yourself with nutritious food,” said LauraKate McAllister, executive director of the South Carolina Specialty Crop Growers Association.
Here are some of the specialty crops South Carolina farmers will harvest in the coming months:
April: Arugula, Asparagus, Beets, Blueberries, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Carrots, Cilantro, Collards, Fennel, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuces, Microgreens, Mushrooms, Mustard & Turnip Greens, Onions, Parsley, Peas (sugar/snap), Radishes, Rutabagas, Strawberries, Swiss Chard, Turnips
May: Arugula, Asparagus, Basil, Beans (Snap/Pole), Beets, Blueberries, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Cilantro, Collards, Cucumbers, Fennel, Green Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuces, Microgreens, Mushrooms, Mustard & Turnip Greens, Onions, Parsley, Peas (sugar/snap), Potatoes, Radishes, Rutabagas, Strawberries, Summer Squash, Sweet Corn, Swiss Chard, Turnips, Zucchini
June: Basil, Beans (Snap/Pole), Blackberries, Blueberries, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Butter Beans, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Carrots, Cilantro, Collards, Cucumbers, Edamame, Eggplant, Fennel, Garlic, Herbs, Kale, Kohlrabi, Microgreens, Mushrooms, Okra, Onions, Peaches, Peas (sugar/snap), Peppers, Plums, Radishes, Strawberries, Summer Squash, Sweet Corn, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Zucchini
For more information on what’s in season, visit certifiedsc.com.
Nathan Vanette, Growing Green Family Farms, Anderson: “COVID has hit all of us hard in unexpected ways. Knowing your farmer and the local agriculture community has become vital to nourishing our bodies while supporting the heart of community. There has been a breach in the knowledge of where food comes from. As a farmer, this has made telling our story all the more important as we work to bring you food with more nourishment, flavor and diversity.”
Tim Rowe, Blue Sky Sunny Day Farm, Walterboro; and a board member of the South Carolina Specialty Crop Growers Association: “When you buy direct from a farmer, you are engaging in a time-honored tradition. Your support of local farmers provides you with seasonal vegetables grown in your area that are picked at the peak of flavor and ensures there will be farms in your community tomorrow.”
Gregory Brown, Greenleaf Farms, Columbia: “Buying local means buying fresh, rather than worrying about how old it is or where it came from. Your money supports the local economy and not a far-off corporation.”
Ron Robinson, Ron’s Roots, Summerville; and a board member of the South Carolina Specialty Crop Growers Association: “You can never really understand the meaning of ‘fresh’ until you have the opportunity to enjoy vegetables ripened on the vine. Please take the time to visit your local farmers market as these men and women love what they do and always try to ensure their customers’ satisfaction with the best taste and quality.”