BUNNY IN THE CITY: Islands Farmers' & Community Market

Leading into my favorite time of the year with state-wide festivals and the local Wilmington Island Farmers Market, I arrive a little late to the Quarterman Drive market on Sept. 2. 

Pulling up in the back of the market, I am on a mission to get to Donatos Pizza for a free slice of cheesy yumminess and make it five feet before I hear two ladies yell out, “Bunny, where are you going so fast?” 

Say hey to mom and daughter, Beth Malone and Susanne Livingston of Blossoms and Blooms Wreaths.

Taking a seat to chat with the Florida to Concord, New Hampshire, to Savannah duo, I learn that Beth has been a teacher for 25 years, teaches at White Bluff Elementary and decided to make wreaths as an outlet. 

“What started out as a fun hobby turned into a business — now I paint for fun!’ shares Beth.

Giggling when her mom Susanne tells me that her idea of fun is having 15 acres in Clyo, Georgia, where her chickens can roam, I learn about her plans to add pigs and cows to her animal kingdom. With a quick pic of the fab females, I make my way to the next table to see yet another familiar face

Kay’s Sweets licensed baker Kama Malcolm is sitting with her sister Nadine Smith who just happens to be a licensed caterer. Known for their clean products, no additives, chemicals and preservatives are in their lemonades, dry rubs and signature dessert jams. I can attest that everything they make is out of this world!

Telling me about their carrot cake, cherrylicious chocolate jam and peach cobbler jams, Kama shares, “We call them dessert jams because they taste like the inside of a dessert.” 

Man, what I wouldn’t give to be at their holiday dinner table for a true Jamaican experience!

Pointing over to the next table, Nadine introduces me to her daughter Nickala Robinson. 

Selling perfume essence oils, dog soap and incense, the Sweet Bubbles entrepreneur tells me, “I work as a freight broker and love to read Japanese comics.”

Slowly but surely making my way to that slice of pizza, I stop one more time to meet Savannah locals Nikki Wright and Michelle Ruffin. Admitting to a slight case of vertigo, the ladies insist on loading me up with hydration packs while offering Covid vaccines and booster shots.

With much appreciation to the ladies for helping with what must have been dehydration, I finally make it to Adam and his business partner/brother-in-law Jason Greene. Serving slices of loaded pizza to anyone walking by, Adam is pretty good with his sales pitch:

“Hey there, have you tried Donatos before? We are new here on the island, can deliver to you and have a second location on Waters Avenue. Try a free slice!” 

While I munch on a slice, I ask Adam what is new with their Whitemarsh Island store.

“We spent the past two days dropping off pizzas to police officers, fire departments, the YMCA and anyone on the islands that serves the community. We are gearing up to do Spirit Night, teacher party discounts and working with Coach Karl Demasi with Prep Sports Report to feed high school students,” shares the sports enthusiast.

Walking over to taste test a slice of margherita pizza is a girl snuggling up to a black cat that is on a leash. She looks familiar and after she says her name is Jessica Dimsdale, I literally reach out and hug the late Dewey Dimsdale’s daughter. With hundreds of people attending Dewey’s celebration of life, I wasn’t sure if she would remember me taking pics of that epic afternoon.

After a cool pic of Jessica and her pet Cona, I snap a pic of Davis Produce’s 20-year-old Randy Davis as well as Broths and Soups’ Mary and Justin Horton. I then pose Jenny Nalepa of Southern Mushrooms after a quick chat about her soups, extracts and seasoning salts.

With time running out before the market closes at noon, I head to my next tent and ask Ian Bonilla if there are any Le Cafe Gourmet mini quiches left. The Tennessee native shakes his head no but bags up a few fresh baked rolls while talking about his love of mechatronics and possibly going back to school to finish with a degree in philosophy.

At the next booth, The PillowSak’s Barbara Passino isn’t sure about having her photo taken. When I asked her what Deborah McInrow would do when asked for a pic, we both knew that The PillowSak founder would definitely pose for a pic with her wicked cool traveling pillow bag complete with a shoulder strap and cinch string.

Next up, extrovert and obvious cool dude David Byrd does a perfect product display of a bottle of Sydney Lance’s Rhoot Man. While attempting to interview him, I am distracted by his fabulous background music and add Colter Wall’s “Sleeping on the Blacktop” to my playlist before grabbing a pic of Brittany Feldman and her O-Snipuls bath products.

By visiting every farmers’ market and festival in Savannah for the past two decades, I have run across T’s Bee’s Todd Foster so many times that I should work for him! The Ohio native tells me he left the snow shoveling midwest world on Aug.12, 1990 then introduces me to his helper Justin Todd. The Savannah native is a 22-year-old fellow member of the First Baptist Church of the Islands.

Another longtime relationship is with Bob and Debbie Fischer of Rumrunners Bakery. The busy couple work with the market vendors, have two tables of fresh-baked goodies from their daughter’s downtown bakery and just happen to be business partners in the family venture with Donatos Pizza.

Grabbing a chunky brownie, I glance over and see sunlight streaming through stained glass ornaments then talk with David Strickland about his journey into glass making. 

“My wife and I read library books, took classes and watched videos on how to make glass about 22 years ago. We have made French doors for churches and created small batches of ornaments at one time because it is so time consuming,” shares the Tybee Island Hives creator.

And as it always happens, the last person I run into is my most fascinating person of the day. Meet QiYoga’s Suzanne Jeffers, a self-proclaimed free spirit who teaches Tai Chi and yoga when she isn’t shooting pics with her mirrorless Nikon. From nanny life, pet setting to substitute teaching, I can tell this naturalist walks to the beat of her own drum!

With the market wrapping up before the midday heat drains up, I wave goodbye to old and new friends and promise to see the diverse vendors back here next Saturday for another local product paradise!

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