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Think Global, Eat Local

(Clockwise from top left) David Boatwright's colorful mural; GrowFood Carolina cabbage on display at Whole Foods; Sara Clow, Mary and John Culbreath of C Breeze Organic Farms, and GrowFood staff. Photographs by (left-2) Drew Somerville & (right) Staci Wittenburg

March 28, 2012

Think Global, Eat Local
GrowFood Carolina helps spur Charleston’s Eat Local initiatives

written By Kinsey Gidick

We hope you’re hungry, because April is Eat Local Month! That means it’s time to sign up for CSAs, shop area farmers markets (Marion Square’s reopens April 7 and Mount Pleasant’s on April 10), or purchase a fresh meat or seafood share.

Lucky for us, the sustainable food movement is alive and well in Charleston, and for our April issue, we caught up with one nonprofit leading the farm-to-table cause. Perhaps you’ve driven past 990 Morrison Drive and noticed artist David Boatwright’s colorful mural depicting a pick-up truck loaded with giant fruits and vegetables. But it isn’t until you step inside the GrowFood Carolina warehouse and meet general manager Sara Clow that the monumental task the nonprofit is trying to achieve comes into focus. With one building, four employees, and the backing of the Coastal Conservation League, the goal is to transition South Carolina from a global food supply dependence to a reliance on regional, small- to medium-size farms.

“We enable small farmers to sell on consignment,” explains Clow. “They can bring in a few boxes of, say, beets or arugula. GrowFood then takes on the marketing, sales, and distribution, saving the farmers valuable time and money and helping them focus on what they do best: growing healthy, great tasting food close to home.”

Area chefs are applauding the effort. “There has always been the need for a liaison between the chef, the grower, and the general public,” says Mike Lata, chef-owner of FIG. “GrowFood is making it easier for those who don’t have the time to travel from farm to farm.” Since opening in September, GrowFood has been able to help 20 farms, including Walters, Newton, and River Run, move produce. “We hope to have 30 farms working with us by the end of the year,” says Clow.

“Historically, agriculture has been a huge part of South Carolina’s economy, from indigo and cotton to tomatoes and rice,” she continues. “Our goal is to secure the future of a sustainable regional food supply and the prosperity of our state’s rural communities.”

To get your fill of Eat Local Month, Lowcountry Local First (LLF) has three fun functions planned:

On April 7, put down that box of Captain Crunch and head to the All You SHOULD Eat Breakfast at Butcher & Bee. Tickets are still available, but you’ll want to act fast before they sell out.

On April 14, get a better idea of where our local produce comes from by signing up for Dirt Roadtrip Farm Tours happening on John’s and Wadmalaw islands.

On April 22, the month wraps up with a veritable culinary smorgasboard with the Chef’s Potluck “Cookin’ with Gas” at Middleton Place.

To take the LLF Eat Local Month Challenge, click here.

To find out more about GrowFood Carolina, click here.

For more April events, click here.

Wed, 03/28/2012