Charleston Farmers Market – Marion Square
Well, it’s been hard to post because I had limited access in the beautiful foothills of Chapin, SC where I was staying but…welcome to Charleston, South Carolina! The picture to the right (the oyster & clam roast) was extra-scholarly activity
Warning: This is a long blog because I have much to say!
Demographics: According to the 2010 US Census, the population of Charleston is 120,083, making it the second most largest (in terms of population) city in South Carolina; Columbia, home of the USC Gamecocks, is second. Charleston is also the fastest-growing municipality in South Carolina. The city is one of three principal cities of a metropolitan statistical area of 659,191—the second largest in the state—and the 76th-largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States. Pretty impressive! But, by some standards, South Carolina is still considered a backward-thinking state. They did, however, elect a female governor this year; unfortunately she is an extremely conservative Republican Nonetheless, I still like South Carolina, but most of all, I LOVE Charleston. While listening to the history of Charleston can be down-right depressing, I always see a glimmer of hope when I visit, especially when I look at their efforts toward sustainability.
Case in point #1…
The South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement Program (SCORE) is a great example of the efforts of forward-thinking volunteers who are making a difference in this region. The purpose of SCORE is to restore the oyster habitat in the Charleston area by planting recycled oyster shells in the intertidal environment to form new, self-sustaining oyster reefs. Oyster populations are declining for many reasons, so these habitat restoration projects are extremely important endeavors in areas where the sales of oysters are paramount to the coastal cities’ economic survival. Putting economics aside for a second (sorta), SCORE believes that it is important for the community to also understand how oysters improve water quality, control erosion, and provide habitat for other commercially-important shellfish and fish species. As always, it boils down to educating the community about the symbiotic relationship among all species and how diverse species, including humans, benefit by protecting ecosystems from destruction.
Case in point #2
The Island Turtle Team in Isle of Palm/Sullivan’s Island, SC.
Isle of Palm is right out side of Charleston; across the fancy new bridge. The turtle team, led by Mary Pringle, was organized in 1998 in an attempt to slow the decrease in loggerhead sea turtle populations in coastal South Carolina. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources allows Mary’s team to identify and mark nests, rescue and release hatchlings, conduct hatching success evaluations, use probes to locate eggs, relocate nests, screen nests from predators when necessary, measure and mark dead sea turtles, and transport or transfer sea turtle specimens in SC.
All sea turtle populations have been decreasing due to the poaching of nests, killing of turtles for their meat, and accidental deaths by commercial fisheries. Other threats to their population include recreational watercraft interaction, disease, cold stunning, natural predators, entanglement in fishing gear, light pollution, nesting habitat degradation, and beach erosion. In 2008, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service determined that loggerhead nesting is declining 1.9% annually. In addition to the loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles turn up on the beaches of South Carolina now and then as well.
One of my hopes was to see some sea turtles while in Isle of Palm on my visit, or if not, at least help count eggs and rope off areas to protect the eggs. Well, no sea turtles came and all nests had been documented…until the day I left! Check out the team report from May 23, 2011! Yes, this was all happening as I was driving back to Kentucky.
Case in point #3
Finally! The Charleston Farmer’s Market at Marion Square.
The Charleston Farmers Market is open Saturdays from 8am-2pm in the Marion Square, between King and Meeting Streets. Marion Square is a beautiful, 10-acre park that has become the heart of the historic City of Charleston – the perfect setting for the Farmers Market. The market is tucked beneath the indigenous laurel oak trees with plenty of room for a plethora of vendors (in other words, there were way too many to count)! The market offers an abundance of the freshest local produce, plants, herbs, and cut flowers. You can also sit down at one of the tables in the center of the market for breakfast, brunch, or lunch, which is available from an assortment of vendors from seafood to fresh-roasted coffee to Cajun fare, and listen to live music. The market also offers had an amazing assortment of local arts and crafts from some of most talented local artisans in the area.
Photos from the Charleston Farmers Market visit: