Living in the Lowcountry, we are fortunate that farmers and farmers’ markets are part of our vibrant (and growing) community. Fresh produce and food stands have been part of Charleston’s culture for many years. Most of us have a memory of a grandmother, relative or neighbor being the source of fresh produce in the summer months. For me, it’s my Daddy’s garden, abundant with tomatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers, or the memory of my Mama stopping along a roadside stand to pick up whatever was fresh that evokes the signs of summer. Summer always meant local food love.
It was my affinity for fresh summer produce that drew me in to visit Lowcountry Street Grocery. A bright green school bus named “Nell”, parked outside Harold’s Cabin for neighbors to stroll through and pick up local produce and more. How could you not want to know what this was all about?
Lowcountry Street Grocery (LSG) is a mobile farmers’ market with a mission. It’s goal is to make healthy, local food affordable and accessible for Charleston residents, including those areas that lack access to healthy, fresh food. Most of the produce is grown on John’s Island or nearby farms in the Lowcountry and about 90% of what is available is local, and not just produce, but bread, coffee, pasta, meats, herbs, cheeses, you name it.
“Nell”, the bright green bus, sets up shop at multiple locations throughout the week, making the farmers’ market experience more convenient and accessible. Daniel Island, James Island and the Peninsula are just a few of the stops. Just as importantly, “Nell” also serves low income, low access communities such as the Tricounty Family Ministries in North Charleston, and The Joseph Floyd Manor on the Upper Peninsula. Lindsay Barron, founder and director explains the concept and importance of this mission driven mobile market, “Every time you shop for healthy, local food aboard the bus, you are helping empower a neighbor in need to do the same”. A portion of the mobile market sales are reinvested to sustain the mission of improving healthy food access in Charleston. So when you buy from them, you are helping to support your neighbors and neighborhoods who may not have the same access most of us take for granted. That’s pretty powerful.
And that’s what makes this “farmers’ market” experience different. Lindsey has managed to turn his passion of helping others who don’t have access to healthy food choices into a solution that we can all support and be a part of. So, by simply doing something we do every week ~ buy groceries ~ we can get fresh, local food, we can help our neighbors, and we can have some fun on the bright green bus.
This mission driven approach is not the only thing appealing about LSG. The bus isn’t just loaded with all kinds of local items but big smiles and a welcoming approach by Lindsay and his team means you never leave empty handed. They create an old fashion neighborhood market vibe that makes you want to try new things, hang around, and meet new neighbors. Knowing that I can also help out other neighbors that may not have the same access to healthy choices, well that’s even more reason to “buy local on the bus”.
Lowcountry Street Grocery’s “good karma” approach is all about connecting the community and making a positive impact along the way. What a great lesson we can all learn from the bright green school bus. The routes and schedules continue to expand. Follow Lowcountry Street Grocery on Facebook to see the latest updates. And commit to being part of a community that that helps and cares about it’s neighbors. Imagine the impact we can collectively have on Charleston.
Photos provided by Lowcountry Street Grocery and RenovatingCharleston.com.