The South Carolina Department of Agriculture works hard to promote the business of feeding us. The agency aids farmers in many aspects of food production and marketing, and the State Farmers Market on US Highway 321 in West Columbia is a big marketing tool for South Carolina’s small farmer. Depending on what’s in season, you’ll find truck beds, tables, boxes and baskets overflowing with melons, corn, squash, eggplants, peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and more. The farmers represent farms from as far as 100 miles away. While there, they primarily sell their produce to people who operate produce stands, but they don’t mind selling a $5 small basket of tomatoes or peppers to an individual buyer. You can learn a thing or two about the food they grow by asking a question, and most love yukking it up with good nature and a smile.
In addition to the two open pavilions of farmers, there is a large nursery with shrubs, trees, vegetable plants, lovely bedding flowers, hanging baskets and a resident rooster that cockadoodle-doos a greeting regardless of the time of day!
Inside the Corbett Building you’ll find The Market Tea Room. Jennifer, the proprietor, will gladly show you about and explain the offerings. You can opt for a breakfast tea or afternoon tea (small meal) by reservation only, or stop in for a couple of freshly baked scones and a pot of tea anytime. Served on lovely china upon crisp table linens, the tea room can accommodate up to 30 guests. Perfect for a party! The Market Tea Room also sells locally produced jams and jellies, jewelry, home decor items and gift baskets. The Tea Room is open from 10am – 4pm all week long.
Down the corridor in the Corbett Building is The Market Restaurant. Owned by a popular Columbia caterer, the restaurant serves from 7am – 3pm everyday. The kitchen prides itself on using the produce offered by vendors at the Farmers Market, creating their dishes from scratch daily. Their menu includes regional favorites like shrimp and grits, corn and black bean salad, meatloaf, pork chops, and wonderful desserts.