Bunches of oversized, healthy-looking scallions were stacked high on a crowded table at the Farmers Market in downtown Charleston.

Less than 24 hours before, those onions were rooted in the rural earth at a 60-acre Johns Island farm.

"This is why I'm here," said Lucie Maguire, holding a bag of carrots, romaine lettuce and a bundle of the green onions. "It's picked on Friday morning, and I get to have it the next day."

Maguire, who lives on James Island, stocked up on vegetables during the first day of the 21st annual market, which runs on Saturdays until December. Hundreds of market-goers in Marion Square picked among tables of fresh produce, prepared foods and crafts such as pottery and wall art.

The market aisles showcased a cross-section of cultures, from hipster college students walking their dogs to grandparents with little ones in tow.

At a busy vegetable stand, John and Katie Frey of Cincinnati discussed the number of vine-ripened tomatoes they'd need to prepare a salad for their daughter, a College of Charleston sophomore, and her friends. Davida Remer and Dan Farrow, an older couple visiting from Washington, D.C., watched the bustle from plastic green chairs on the Marion Square lawn.

Eight-year-old Bella Fulk of West Ashley sat patiently while her face was painted like a tiger -- an intimidating choice for a girl dressed in pink from head-to-toe.

"It's her true spirit," said her mother, Laura Fulk. "Don't let the pink fool you."

Market newcomers included vendor Kara Viacrucis, who was selling jade plants that grew from snippets of her grandmother's 50-year-old plant.

Viacrucis remembers when her grandmother, now 94, gave sprigs away to other family members, and she once brought a plant back to California as a reminder of her South Carolina roots. Eventually, the jade plant's virility evolved into a money-making concept.

"I found that they made good gifts," said Viacrucis, who lives in downtown Charleston.

Four hours into the market, she had sold five plants.

Meat House, a West Ashley charcuterie business started by Jason and Katie Houser, also debuted at the market, which is the only place the meats are sold publicly.

First-day sales seemed strong and rewarding, and the table's salty bacon samples drew a crowd. "People like eating the free bacon, at least," Jason Houser said.

Farmers markets

Charleston

LOCATION: Marion Square, downtown Charleston.

WHEN: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays, April 3-Dec. 19; special Holiday Magic Market Dec. 4.

WHAT: The area's oldest and largest farmers market includes dozens of food vendors, artisans and craftspeople. Vegetables and fruits, plants, herbs, cut flowers, eggs, beef, charcuterie, fish, shrimp and pecans, as well as jams, jellies, baked goods, fresh pasta and local wines.

Daniel Island

LOCATION: Family Circle Tennis Complex, 161 Seven Farms Drive.

WHEN: 3 p.m. until dusk, Thursdays, May 6-Sept. 30.

WHAT: Farmers, artisans and food and beverage vendors selling local produce, herbs and cut flowers, seafood, baked goods, prepared foods, crafts, jewelry and more.

Freshfields Village

LOCATION: Freshfields Village on Johns Island, at the traffic circle between Kiawah and Seabrook islands.

WHEN: 4-8 p.m. Mondays, June 7-Aug. 30.

WHAT: Farmers, food vendors and Lowcountry artisans. Offers seasonal vegetables and fruits, flowers, jams, jellies, ciders, sweetgrass baskets and crafts, and gourmet prepared foods. Participating stores also will host artists each week.

Goose Creek

LOCATION: Goose Creek Community Center (behind police department), 519 North Goose Creek Blvd.

WHEN: 3-6 p.m. Thursdays, May 6-Sept. 30.

WHAT: Farmers, food and crafts vendors.

Moncks Corner

LOCATION: Gulledge and Heatley streets, behind Farmers & Merchants Bank.

WHEN: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesdays and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, June 19-Oct. 30.

WHAT: Seasonal produce, such as sweet corn, watermelons, cantaloupes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, squash, okra and peaches; also nursery plants.

Mount Pleasant

LOCATION: In pavilions in front of Moultrie Middle School, Coleman Boulevard and Simmons Street.

WHEN: 3 p.m. until dark Tuesdays, April 13-Oct. 19.

WHAT: Local farmers with fruits and vegetables; food products, such as relishes and jellies; or prepared foods, such as barbecue, crepes, breads and pies. Live music and Kids Corner activities include balloons and face painting. Clemson Extension Master Gardeners offer gardening advice.

North Charleston

LOCATION: Park Circle.

WHEN: Noon-7 p.m. Thursdays, April 22-Oct. 28.

WHAT: Seasonal variety of locally grown produce, as well as herbs, jellies, jams and handcrafted goods. Live entertainment.

Summerville

LOCATION: W. Doty Street between Cedar and Main streets.

WHEN: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, April 3-late fall.

WHAT: Seasonal vegetables and fruits, herbs, flowers, jams, jellies, baked goods, barbecue sauce, plants, wood crafts, jewelry, carvings, photography, hot dogs and ice cream.

MUSC Farmers Markets

LOCATIONS: In MUSC Horseshoe, 171 Ashley Ave.; off Courtenay Drive on Charleston Center Drive; Harborview Office Towers, 19 Hagood Ave.

WHEN: 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Fridays through late fall.

WHAT: Fresh fruits and vegetables.

Reach Katy Stech at 937-5549 or kstech@postandcourier.com.