The farm market at Indigo Farms has been open for a few weeks already, but the stars of the spring market, strawberries, have really just come into their own. Mid-April is late for their appearance, but the cold winter has kept them under wraps for a bit.
Sam Bellamy, sixth-generation farmer and co-owner of Indigo Farms, says, “I just tasted some and they should be in the store by mid-April.”
Sam added that while the season usually takes a while to ramp up to full speed he expects that this year the peak will arrive not long after the beginning.
Pickers take notice! The pick-your-own fields may take an additional few days to be ready. For up to date information on what is being picked and in the Farm Market and what is available for to pick, check the website at www.indigofarmsmarket.com.
If you have picked or shopped at Indigo before, you will have discovered what the regulars know is true; the berries from Indigo taste different and a lot better than the ones from a supermarket. One reason is that the two varieties grown at Indigo – Chandler and Camarosa – are types that are well-adapted to the weather conditions of the southeast.
“The supermarket varieties are from California and overseas and are bred to be shipped,” Sarah Bellamy said. “Florida strawberries are already out of season.”
Shipped berries, she noted, from no matter where, are often gassed to ripen since they are not picked ripe. April is also a great time for mustard greens, tender kale and asparagus.
Indigo is about a lot more than strawberries or the other fruits that it offers for picking. The farm’s produce ranging from greens to veggies to nuts are clearly marked. “Market” items come from other sources. If you have questions about what you are buying at the market, just ask the woman in charge – Mrs. Mary Bellamy, Sam’s mom.
If you are planning a fruit and veggie run to Indigo, you might want to leave time for lunch and for at least a quick look at the Garden Center. More family members work at the center, where herbs such as thyme, rosemary, mint, dill, parsley, lemon balm, basil, sage and annuals are among the many items now available.
Of course, they also have bushes, tomatoes, perennials and other plants as well as decorative garden items and accessories. Planting advice from people who have been growing things in this soil and climate their entire lives is a free service.
Sampling the lunch offerings at the pleasant tables in the wing of the market between the produce and the Garden Center is a nice way to break up your shopping. The barbecue, egg and chicken salad sandwiches are great, but I admit I rarely try those.
Usually I save my lunch calories for the pies.
Oh, they have ice cream and other pastries too, but it is the pies that delight the taste buds. The strawberry season brings luscious strawberry varieties, including strawberry cream along with the strawberry milkshakes. Though, for many, the spring strawberry pie is a desert of first choice.
The blueberry cream pie is my absolute favorite and when I have company or am invited to dinner and want to bring a dessert, I like to stop by and take this specialty from lunch stand operators Nancy Bellamy and Lynn Columbaris. These baked goods stand the ultimate taste test – there is usually nothing left from a whole pie whether it is served at home or taken to a friend’s home.
If you have children, the barnyard is always open during business hours to delight adults and children with the antics of the animals. (Formal educational tours of the farm are available, just call 399-6902 for prices, dates, etc.)
If the drive up to the North Carolina border seems a bit far to go, you can sample Indigo’s fruits and vegetables from their stand at the Myrtle Beach Farmer’s Market. The market is on Mr. Joe White Avenue and Oak Street in Myrtle Beach. It opens April 16 for the spring and its hours are Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.