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Shamrock Time!


Honestly, I had no intention of delaying my report on Shamrock Farms until nearly St Patrick’s Day, but since I have, I will call attention to the proclivity of the Hamel clan to indulge in excessive seasonal decoration, evident in the sculpted-styrofoam igloo-with-polar-bears scene that was still on display in their front yard when Elian and I pulled up to visit way back in early January. Inside the house were a few vestiges of their 14 themed Christmas tree exhibit. I invite the Hamel’s, or anyone else, to send a photo of what they may have put out for the rapidly-approaching mid-March Fest. My grayish January photographs do not appear too far out of season thanks to the sustained late-winter chill we are having.. Photographing farms in winter in a flattering fashion can be difficult; sort of like asking someone to sit for a portrait before breakfast. For greener pictures of Shamrock Farms see their CAFÉ Growers page


Like the clover-leaf suggested in their farm’s name, the Hamels of Shamrock Farms: Bob, Pat, and Rob; can be viewed as a (secular) trinity of sorts, each having her/his own unique talents that they employ in bringing to life so much great food and good will from their rather unassuming, semi-suburban, oversized lot in Abbeville. Let me quickly characterize (incompletely and selectively) each of them in a way that I hope will enhance your appreciation of their fine products:

PATRICIA HAMEL: ancestors from Lithuania and Ireland – sources of unique family heirloom seeds – grew up in NYC – ran a catering business and cooked for family-run country inn – amazing baker but they don’t have a certified kitchen – adds the flare to the seasonal decorating

ROBERT (“BOB”) HAMEL: ancestors French – grew up in ME – worked for a seed breeder in the early stages of genetic engineering – in his own gardens, by contrast, he has always used heirloom seeds and without poisonous chemicals – jack-of all trades for the country inn – has amazing wood shop – an excellent New England craftsman – carved igloo and polar bears (pictured) out of recycled styrofoam crates.

ROBERT (“ROB”) HAMEL: son of Pat and Bob – grew up in CT, then ME – worked in marine biology – learned bartending – sailor – artisan woodworker – skilled gardener – AWARD WINNING VINTNER (sorry, not available thru CAFÉ).


In Abbeville since 2001 – they relocated here from FL following a traumatic semi-truck accident which disabled both Bob and Rob – they have been gardening and interacting with their land and community in various individual ways ever since – creating the great products they share with us.

In Pat’s words:

“We sold at the Abbeville Farmer’s market for 3 years until they allowed many non farmers to sell there. We grew everything we sold and to have to compete with people that buy from state markets to resell as their own is not where we want to be. These re-sellers don’t even have a garden and yet they sell as farmers. We now sell from our farm and on CAFE as well as to a few restaurants. We are a small family farm and really love being able to provide really fresh and safe to eat produce for our customers. We only use the very best seeds if we purchase any they are organic and heirloom it is our goal to bring back the old plants that many have forgotten ! Heirloom seeds are much harder to get and grow they have lower germination rates and are not immune to anything like the hybrids are but we feel it is worth the effort so that everyone can enjoy that fantastic old world flavor that has been lost over the years ! Our irrigation system required several years to design and is a drip system using very little water but maximizing its distribution . Overall we follow the old ways in the garden such as use whats natural grass clippings , wood chips, sawdust, leaves and winter over crops to add nutrients back in the soil.”

They may have exotic and cosmopolitan credentials but no household offers greater Southern hospitality than the Hamels’. Elian and I were both treated to cups of tea and sips of wine, and then sent home with a loaf of Lithuanian raisin bread to share with our families. As tight a family as a family-farm could ever find, we thank the Hamel’s of Shamrock for fusing their individual talents and continental/Celtic/New England influences in ways that greatly enhance our Market.

Stay lucky! Lance

Market still open until noon!

See photos on our Facebook page.

Farmers Market Season is Here!


Farmers Market Season is here!

Will someone please remind the Weather-maker!

Yes, tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 come out and visit us at our table at the first First Friday City of Clemson Farmers Market at Patrick Square, 578 Isaqueena Tr.

I will be selling a variety of things from various CAFÉ growers (including fresh produce from the Student Organic Farm),as well as Leopard Forest coffee.

The first best reason to come is to meet Becky and Sandra Howington of Crescent Moon Farm, who are the Featured Farmers of the day!!

The other best reason to go is to welcome back Katie Tillman and Val Lowe of Friends. They will begin listing some products on CAFÉ a monthly basis beginning tomorrow night.

The City of Clemson and Patrick Square also have a program. Market hours are 3:30-6:30.

Hope to see you there. Lance

Want to grow for CAFE?

Monday Update 2/4/13

Want to Grow for CAFÉ?

If you want to learn to grow food fit to feed yourself and others but have little experience, you can learn a great deal about it at the Organic Growers School Annual Spring Conference, a weekend conference at UNC Asheville March 9 and 10, 2013.

“The first Organic Growers School Spring Conference was held in 1993, with just over 100 participants. Since then, the event has grown exponentially. In 2012, 1906 farmers, gardeners, educators, students, consumers, and chefs gathered from over 18 states and Canada, making the OGS Spring Conference the largest event of its type in the Southeast.”

This year the conference offers over 100 workshops, including a special track for beginners called “DIGGING IN,” which begins with:

1A: Anyone Can Garden, Anywhere Joel Tippens, Fair Share Urban Growers

Henry Kissinger once said, “Who controls the food supply controls the people.” Are you ready to gain control of yourself and your family, but not sure where to start? Not enough space? No yard? Joel will cover the basics of getting started on the extremely small scale, and growing what you need with limited resources to begin building your own food supply. Urban dwellers and owners of small spaces will benefit from this class, as we will cover unlikely and unique options for getting things going.

If you register before 2/18 the conference is only $45/day with Children’s programs for $30/day (best value you will find for this quality of engagement). The workshops are short but good introductions to the topics ranging from very beginning (above) to the cutting edge (Making Biochar on the Farm). The instructors, who include Shawn Jadrnicek from the Student Organic Farm, and Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain, come with the best of qualifications.

There are also interesting vendors, a seed-swap table, great food, and mainly lots of energetic people willing to share. I always come home from the Organic Growers School with a head full of ideas and a heart full of enthusiasm for the new growing season.

Once you get your thumb greened and learn some sanitation practices, go to our Growers Page and fill out an application.

Grow well, eat well, stay well. Lance

CAFÉ Market closes at noon today.

Holiday Reminder


Holiday Reminder

Attention CAFÉ shoppers: Don’t do like I do and think that a Monday holiday is another Sunday. CAFÉ market closes today at noon. Pickup is tomorrow in the usual places.

Serve (food) and be served! Lance

Seneca Help at OMC today

We still need one more volunteer to help at Oconee pickup today. Volunteer time runs from 4:30-6:30 pm at Oconee Medical Center.

If you can help, call or reply back to this message.


A Sunshine State of Mind


A Sunshine State of Mind

According to Elian’s odometer, Parisi Farms is 55 miles from my house via state and county roads. Mostly south (about a half degree of latitude), and slightly lower in elevation (about 100 ft), but not enough to put it out of hardiness Zone 7, let alone into the climates of Florida where Penny came from. I was shivering when I got out of the car at the same frequency I did when back at my house. I compared with her the low temperature for last Saturday, the coldest morning of the year so far, and came out pretty close. How is it, then, that Penny will be picking well over 100 orders of fresh greens for the CAFÉ market today and tomorrow?

First, because Penny seems to carry her own internally-radiated sunshine, and is one of the most focused, hard-working people on the planet! She works in the fields for more hours these days than the celestial sun, having been seen well after dark with flashlight cutting for her markets. “If Eliott Coleman can grow vegetables through the winter in Maine, we ought to be able to do it here in SC,” she contends. I would point out that Coleman’s Maine crops are under 2 layers of insulated greenhouse film, whereas Parisi’s crops thrive sheltered only by the blanket of Penny’s love. Save for a 30’X15’ high tunnel, used mostly as a transplant incubator, her crops stand fully exposed to the best and worst of the Abbeville County winter.

This brings us to the second reason she is able to make such a large harvest during the coldest part of the year. The bulk of the plant tissue contained in the leaves and stems of she will be bunching, bagging, and labeling was added to the plants during the Autumn when temps were higher and days were longer. It is one thing to maintain mature plants into the cold season; it is another to germinate them or get them out of the seedling stage. This is why it will be harder to sustain a harvest in February and March than it is in January. Still, for Penny to be able to harvest so much now she had to have allocated much space and time for these crops several months ago, a sacrifice not many growers are capable of making. We consumers often forget how much harder it is to produce a bunch of greens in January. Incremental growth from week to week is negligible, yet the customer expects the same size and quality at the same price.

As the cloud layer over our heads refused to lift, Elian and I headed down the road to nearby Shamrock Farms and to Southern Oaks Jersey Farm (topics for another time), leaving Penny beaming her sunshine on your soon-to-be-picked up greens.

Market still open till noon.

Happy Old Year!



Let me express our gratitude to all of you: farmers, eaters, volunteers, non-volunteers, lurkers, plants, animals (even the mice), fairies, elves, etc. for all the ways you have contributed to a successful 2012 CAFÉ year!

We look forward to all the adventures that 2013 will bring us and invite you to continue to find ways to participate with us in adding more farms, more mouths, and more services.

Remember that we are slightly off our weekly schedule with tomorrow being a holiday. Let me repeat the following market logistics:

Market ordering window will close today, Monday, at noon.

No pickups tomorrow, Tuesday, at any location.

Pickups Wednesday at TAC (3:30-6:00) and OMC (4:30-6:30). No Liberty pickup.

Party well and eat well. Lance

Last Market Before Christmas!



In case you missed Friday’s announcement, Café will not hold a market Christmas Day, which falls on a Tuesday this year. After this week our next market will be Wednesday, January 2. We will go back to Tuesdays on January 8.

If you haven’t stocked up yet almost everything is still available as well as many possible gift items, some that have been added since market opening on Friday:

Among food items:
• Plenty of green vegetables
• Several special holiday cakes
• A special holiday batch of ice creams and sorbets
• Many jams and jellies
• Pecans in many different packages
• Also several Gift Baskets are available under that heading

For some non-food gift items, shop alphabetically and check out the many items under:

• Farm Crafts
• Gift Baskets
• Christmas…
• Skin Care
• Soaps
• T – Shirts, etc.

For those of you I won’t see Tuesday, have a most magnificent next two weeks celebrating your favorite holidays! Eat well, shop well (open til Mon noon), and stay well! Lance

Decking the Halls at The Arts Center


Decking the Halls!

Like naughty students from the building’s previous incarnation, those of us at the CAFE holiday party were “sent out to the halls” of The Arts Center facility last Friday night, due to a scheduling oversight. When I arrived at 6:00 PM, an hour before the party was to begin the auditorium was already occupied by decorators for a Saturday event. Even though our sovereignty over the territory was re-established , we opted for co-existence and ceded the auditorium to those already in it.

Before the panic of recognizing my unpreparedness for this course of events could fully set in, CAFÉ volunteers began arriving and, intuitively in synch with one another, spontaneously executing a Plan B. Miraculously, by 7:00, in the time it had taken me to arrange the many, generously donated with “door (hall?) prizes,” the school Halls of the Ol’ Morrison Annex, the first school my son attended when we moved here to Clemson years ago, were “decked” with aromatic, colorful, delicious local food, and buzzing with joyous people. Soon the beer-tester/tasters and musicians arrived, food was served, and the party was on!

Just as quickly, everything was dis-assembled, and I was home to bed at a reasonable hour. Like a flash mob, the party had come and gone before my eyes, ears, nose, and tastebuds. Thanks to all who came and made that happen! hanks to those who donated prizes. I am too lazy to mention you all by name at the moment. Check for pictures on Facebook. You are CAFÉ!

Eat well, shop well (open til Mon noon), and stay well! Lance

Holiday Party

I’d like to remind you of our party Friday night at the Arts Center in Clemson.

7-9 pm

Family is welcome

Live music

What to Bring:
-potluck dish to share & serving utensil
-beverage of choice (we will have punch and Brew Crew will bring beer to sample)

We will have doorprizes. If you would like to donate one, please bring Friday night.

We need helpers for set up and clean up. Please reply if you are available. Setup time is about 6:15.

We can’t wait to see you!!!