Beginning Thursday, Oct. 20, City Roots Farm will be the site of a new, food-centric farmers market.
Eric McClam, farm manager and co-owner of City Roots, said that the idea for the weekly market came about after a discussion with Keith Willoughby of Wil-Moore Farms in Lugoff.
City Roots runs a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) network where people can buy shares of the vegetables grown on the farm. Willoughby wanted to add a meat share, and offered his pasture-raised pork, chicken and occasional lamb and goat, in addition to free-range eggs. Since Thursday is the designated day for City Roots’ CSA share pickup, McClam thought a meat share would add to the shopping experience.
“We have 100 to 150 people coming out each week to pick up shares, so why not round out the diet with meats, honey, cheese and breads?” he asked.
In addition to City Roots’ vegetables and Wil-Moore’s meats, the Thursday market will have honey, cheeses, baked goods, grains and local craft beer. The staff at City Roots will give farm tours as well. McClam is also hoping to find a local seafood purveyor.
He said he wants to keep the market small and focused for now. The market will run year-round and be farmer and food-producer centric – meaning no arts and crafts. “We want to give people more options for local food and help other growers get their produce to market,” he said.
This is just the latest growth for Columbia’s urban farm. Since 2009, City Roots has grown in numbers from McClam and one helper to a current staff of 12 full time employees, with up to 20 workers during the summer growing season. The farm site at Airport Blvd. started out at three acres and has expanded to five acres, plus six acres that are leased near Heathwood Hall school off Bluff Road.
Over the past year, McClam has entered a partnership with Farm to Table Events Company along with founder Vanessa Driscoll and Kristian Niemi, chef and owner of Bourbon. City Roots has long been a host site for the company’s harvest dinners.
In the past six months, the farm has added solar panels that now generate more than half of the energy the farm uses, an open shed for events, and a building that will be used for microgreen production and finishing in addition to housing additional restrooms. Another greenhouse is planned this winter, and a full-service kitchen will be added in the spring.
City Roots’ microgreens are distributed through US Foods and Sysco and can be found in 30 Whole Foods grocery stores throughout the Southeast. McClam says “we’re trying to keep up with demand.” He will still be selling at Soda City every Saturday, as he as been for the past seven years.
City Roots: microgreens and seasonal vegetables; www.cityroots.org
Wil-Moore Farms: Keith Willoughby and his family own this farm in Lugoff that raises free range chicken, lamb, pasture-raised pork, and supplies fresh eggs; wil-moorefarms.com
The Congaree Milling Company: Ken DuBard and Lawrence Burwell produce local ground white, yellow and blue corn grits, flour, cornmeal, polenta and hominy; thecongareemillingcompany.com
Happy Cow Creamery: Tom Trantham, in Pelzer, raises cows that produce whole milk, butter and cheese; www.happycowcreamery.com
Gin’s Juice: Virginia (Gin) Arrington blends fresh juices; ginsjuicesc.com
Sassafras Bee and Honey Farm: Larry Coble collects local pure, raw honey from his hives in Lexington; www.facebook.com/sassafrasbeefarm
Heather’s Artisan Bakery: Heather Digdon, of Cayce, creates fresh artisan breads and baked goods; www.facebook.com/Heathers-Artisan-Bakery-LLC
Rise Gourmet Bake Shop: Chefs Sarah Simmons and Charley Scruggs bring a selection of baked goods fresh from their Five Points location; www.risebakeshop.com
Trail Ridge Farm and Grade A Goat Dairy: The Hammond family of Aiken raise a mix of Nubian, Saanen and Alpine goats that produce great feta and chevre cheeses; trailridgefarmanddairy.webs.com
River Rat Brewery: Mike Tourville and crew brew craft beer on Shop Road; www.riverratbrewery.com
Farm to Table Event Company: food tastings; www.farmtotableeventco.com.