VILJAC SPEARHEADS BLUFFTON’S FARMERS MARKET
Kim Viljac’s love of community and talent for connection lends perfectly to her position as executive director of the Farmers Market of Bluffton.
Viljac lived for a time in the south of France which helped foster her lifelong affinity for great food and outdoor activities.
“I spent a lot of time at open air markets with all the beautiful colors, fragrant aromas, and friendly people,” she said. “I guess that’s where it all started.”
The charming backdrop of Old Town welcomes the mindful consumer as they browse more than 30 local producers and farmers every Thursday afternoon.
The market itself, on Calhoun Street, appears as a microcosm of what living in a healthy society should look like: homegrown foods, neighborhood outreach, and relationships built on mutual objectives.
Viljac is integral to these principles.
“People often tell me how they come to meet up with friends, and how love the experience,” she says. “We are committed to supporting local agriculture, as well as the small-business person.”
Autumn’s swift approach finds some farmers in between crops and planning for the upcoming (pumpkin) season.
Seasonal fruits, vegetables, plants, and herbs are always available, along with responsibly sourced beef, pork, and poultry.
“The beauty of the farmers market is that you’re able to talk directly to the farmer,” Viljac says. “If you are buying a tomato, know that the person selling it to you grew it.”
She values the relationships developed over her 10 years as director, and in turn, merchants appreciate her dedication. The farmers market typically averages 30 vendors each Thursday.
The Mosher family of HD Farm in Yemassee has been merchants since January. They describe the taste of their meats as “pure.”
Their pasture-raised, pure-breed pigs and lamb are given non-GMO feed without hormones or antibiotics.
Chocolates and Sweets on Hilton Head Island have been faithful merchants for nearly 10 years. Linda and Billy Douglas’ handmade confections include sweet truffles, pralines, creamy fudge, roasted pecans and multiple chocolate creations.
Most requested are their coconut balls and chocolate covered bacon.
Another long-standing market vendor is Kathy Lambert of Great Food Co-Op, whose homemade salsas and dips are reminiscent of the “good ol’ days,” she said.
In homage to her father, Lee, Lambert continues the tradition. Most requested are the Goldilocks-Red Heat Relish, and crispy “Chippy Chips” in sun-dried tomato/basil, spinach/herb, and whole wheat proprietary blends.
As a non-profit venue, Viljac speaks of her “open door” in encouraging community groups to set up and promote their efforts.
“We try to get everyone involved,” she said.
Organizations such as Bluffton Self Help, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Backpack Buddies, Girl Scouts and the Rotary Club have come out to raise awareness.
Local chefs make regular appearances, demonstrating food preparation basics.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Viljac ensures Bluffton’s safety regulations are followed: proper vendor spacing and signage for mask wearing, sanitizer use, and customer distancing. Customers can’t touch or handle foods.
The Farmers Market of Bluffton is open Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit www.farmersmarketbluffton.org.