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They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. But when it comes to our connection to food, College of Charleston student Adelaide Bates begs to differ. Distance, Bates insists, creates a disconnect between what we eat and where it comes from.

“I think shelves are the problem of the world,” says the urban studies major, who started college last year with 70 credits and is now technically a junior at 19 years old. “When we chose to put food on a shelf, it distanced us from the people and places that grow our food.”

She adds, “You can buy organic all day long at the grocery store, but you have no idea what the field looked like where the food was grown.”

Adelaide Bates

Adelaide Bates

That’s why Bates, with the support of the College’s Office of Sustainability and Dining Services, helped launch the College’s Farmers Market in November 2018. The goal was to better connect students to the local agricultural community and provide the campus community with access to fresh produce and other locally grown goods.

The Farmers Market is kicking off its fall 2019 season on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. along George Street. Additional College of Charleston Farmers Markets will be held on Oct. 29 and Dec. 3. Vendors and products at Tuesday’s market will include (*some product availability may vary):

  • Vertical Roots lettuce
  • Carolina Plantation Charleston Gold Rice & Aromatic Brown
  • Horsecreek Honey Farms Honey
  • Bulls Bay Saltworks
  • Cocoa Academic
  • One Love Kombucha
  • Popping Corn from WW Kirven Farms
  • Eggs from Watson Farms
  • Clemson Blue Cheese Hickory Hill Farm
  • Lowcountry Creamery
  • Charleston Caviar from CHS Artisan Cheesehouse
  • Burden Creek Dairy Goat Chevre
  • DMF Farms crowder peas
  • Watsonia Farms produce
  • Rosebank Farms produce

Locally harvested salt and fresh produce will be available at Tuesday’s farmers market. (Photos by Heather Moran and Mike Ledford)

In addition, local food security groups, including the Stone Soup Collective, the Office of Sustainability and the CofC Vegan Club will be onsite providing information on clean, healthy and sustainable eating. GrowFood Carolina, a food hub that supports small-scale farms, will also be on-hand with recipes and how-to-use cards for produce and other foods. Representatives from Vertical Roots, a Charleston-based indoor farming company, and CofC’s Sustainable Agriculture program, will be available to talk with students about sustainable food systems and agricultural processes. And the College’s registered dietician Emily Ackerberg will be sharing healthy eating tips with her taste cart.

The hope is students walk away with some fresh, healthy eats and a little appreciation about where and how their food is grown.

“It’s all about improving students’ farm to table connection,” says Bates, who served as an intern for the Office of Sustainability for the 2018-19 school year and now works part-time as Dining Services’ sustainability coordinator.

But Bates’ desire to connect people with local farmers goes beyond just a love of fresh produce and organic meat. It’s a deeper calling that’s been with her since grade school, one that led her to start the McClellanville Land & Sea Market in her hometown of McClellanville, South Carolina, in 2017, while she was still in high school. And it’s a passion project she continues to support. Bates spent her summer supporting the McClellanville market’s third season by lining up vendors and promoting market events.

“I am the working man’s protector,” says Bates, who grew up watching her father, who worked in construction, be disconnected from the people who ultimately enjoyed the fruits of his labor. Similarly, Bates thought more people should touch the hands that feed them. “When it came to my town, I felt like I wanted to do something and should do something to bridge that gap.”

Whether in her hometown or at CofC, Bates says the purpose of these farmers markets is to celebrate fresh, sustainably grown food, and the people who grow it.

“There’s so much you’re never going to learn if you don’t have that human contact,” she says.