by Susan Johnson
Office of Health Promotion
In support and recognition of National Farmers Market Week established by the USDA, Gov. Nikki Haley has proclaimed August as Farmers Market Month in South Carolina.
The extension of the national observance allows communities to showcase their local markets. According to Hugh Weathers, South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, there is nothing fresher than the produce grown in South Carolina. "Shopping at one of our many farmers markets makes it easy to have South Carolina's very best, while supporting your local farmers."
United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said farmers markets offer consumers healthful products sold from the farm in their freshest possible state. Since 2000, the number of recorded farmers markets has grown approximately 170 percent, from 2,863 markets in 2000 to more than 7,800 in 2012.
As consumers seek more meaningful relationships with local farms and with their neighbors, farmers markets are improving community health, and bringing diverse groups of people together through a shared social space. An abundance of nutritionally-dense, low-calorie fresh fruits and vegetables is not the only asset farmers markets bring to communities. Most farmers markets also conduct demonstrations that teach people how to prepare fresh produce at home, and provide them with recipes to take advantage of what's in season.
"Farmers markets create a public space for everyone to build relationships: farmer to farmer; farmer to consumer; and neighbor to neighbor," said Copper Alvarez, vice president of the Farmers Market Coalition, a national nonprofit dedicated to strengthening farmers markets. "We stand in line with one another, exchange ideas about the food we eat, and we are nourished by the relationships as well as the food. Every time we gather at a farmers market, we become part of a unique experience that celebrates the diversity and wellness of our community."
Farmers markets bolster regional economies, increase access to nutritious foods and help consumers connect with the people behind one of South Carolina's biggest industries. Right now there are 120 community based farmers markets across the state and three state farmers markets in West Columbia, Florence and Greenville.
At MUSC employees, students and visitors can visit farmers markets on Wednesdays in front of Ashley River Tower; Thursdays in the Pearlstine Healing Garden, first floor of the Hollings Cancer Center; and Fridays in the Horseshoe and in the grassy area next to Ashley River Tower, 25 Courtenay Drive, behind Charleston Memorial Hospital.
For information on farmers markets at MUSC, in the Charleston community or any of the other farmers markets across South Carolina, visit www.agriculture.sc.gov and click on Farmers Markets Directory under Publications.
Employee Wellness events
- MUSC's Pitch the Pack Program: Free smoking cessation program offered to MUSC employees and students. Receive a complimentary success kit with enrollment filled with gifts. Enroll at http://ceii.muschealth.com/SCP/SCPRegistration.aspx.
- Zumba at Harborview Office Tower: Join licensed Zumba instructor Felecia Curry for a weekly Wednesday night Zumba class held from 5 – 6 p.m. Zumba is a dance-based aerobic exercise class and Curry tailors the workout to accommodate any fitness level. Space is limited. Email email@example.com or call 822-6136 for information or to register.
- MUSC Urban Farm: Family Workday from 9 – 11 a.m., Aug. 18. Sessions will focus on Organic Crop Rotation Practices. Bring a plastic bag and take home some fresh produce in return for work efforts on the farm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.