Food & Drink

Farmers markets offer best of South's bounty

I am having the time of my life. I've learned many things touring local farmers markets. Seeing the vendors come together makes these markets a great place to meet and greet people.

It's wonderful to have York Glover, a Clemson Extension agent, advising farmers and those who love to shop at the markets. I admire those farmers who work to make their dream come true. It allows those of us who want to shop to be in the mix.

Market organizer Pamela Martin Ovens is willing to introduce everyone who makes the Hilton Head Island Farmers Market at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn the place to be on Fridays. She tells how everything came into place:

"The first idea for the market came from Rebecca Smith, who had a conversation with Michael Marks about using the property at the Coastal Discovery Museum. That was just the beginning as there had to be communication with the Town of Hilton Head Island to get the proper permits. When Smith asked me to partner with her, without hesitation, I agreed.

"There were South Carolina Department of Agriculture market meetings to attend. ... Gail Horvath and I (eventually) became partners in the venture. We had to purchase tents to rent to the vendors and create a working plan. ... There was a two-and-a-half-day retreat for farmers market managers sponsored by South Carolina Department of Agriculture where we learned so much.

"What excitement when Mayor Drew Laughlin rang the opening bell on April 1. Now on Fridays there can be over 50 farmers and vendors, from organic farmers, local farmers, beekeepers and artisans."

It's a dream for everyone to enjoy -- farmers, vendors and shoppers. Farmers markets are not places where one can walk in and walk out. The magic of the place and people get your energy level up, making you want to shop. That is what the watermelons did to me.

I was amazed at the market's watermelons. Watermelons come in all sizes, shapes and colors. Some are oblong, some round. Some are red inside and some are yellow. Some are seedless, some aren't. But there is something special about the summertime sweetness of a South Carolina-grown watermelon.

Having a slice is just the basic way to enjoy a watermelon. You can carry it to another level and enjoy this fruit even more with these recipes.

Port Royal resident Ervena Faulkner is a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at

Southern Watermelon Cocktail

1 cup watermelon balls

1 cup cantaloupe balls

1 cup ginger ale

Mint leaves

Scoop balls or dice pieces from melons and arrange them in cocktail glasses. Chill thoroughly and just before serving, add ginger ale and mint.

Quick and Easy Watermelon Pie

1 can sweetened condensed milk

4 ounce container refrigerated non-dairy topping, thawed

1/4 cup lime juice

2 cups watermelon balls

1 (9-inch) graham cracker crust

Fold together milk and topping. Add lime juice. Fold in watermelon balls, reserving about 5 balls for garnish. Pour into graham cracker crust. Place remaining watermelon balls on pie to garnish.

Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Watermelon Cup

1 watermelon

Fruit juice

Sugar syrup

Scoop out balls of watermelon pulp with a French ball cutter. Cover with orange juice or any other fruit juice, fresh or canned. Sweeten with sugar syrup.

Chill before serving.

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Farmers markets sprouting up across Beaufort County as local food movement takes root, July 17, 2011