Root and Bloom Market, a Wednesday “happening” in Bluffton
It was something about becoming a mother in 2003 that made Alison Ruh question what foods she was feeding herself and her family, eventually inspiring her to open Root and Bloom Market almost 20 years later.
Ruh considers her kitchen the heart of her home and prioritized feeding her children nutritious foods from the start. But when she began struggling with headaches soon after giving birth to her first daughter, Kami, now age 20, she turned to nutrition labels and the internet for answers. When she learned that monosodium glutamate (MSG), a common food flavor enhancer, has been linked to headaches, her passion for clean eating began.
“After that, I read more books and began educating myself. Over the years we have cut out many food additives, made meals from scratch and have eaten as clean as possible,” Ruh said. “And now, 19 years later, I’ve been able to help others.”
Root and Bloom was born out of Ruh’s desire to create a place where Lowcountry community members could shop for clean foods, bath and beauty products and locally made gifts all in one place. The market vendors, which include a variety of local farmers, craftsmen and small business owners, gather from 3 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday at Martin Family Park in Bluffton to sell their goods, farmers-market style. But unlike a traditional farmers market, Ruh’s vendor-selection process is rigorous.
To be part of Root and Bloom, each vendor has to meet the market’s healthy living standard: all of the food products must be organic and promote regenerative agriculture, meaning that the produce is managed with natural pest-deterrent practices rather than chemical pesticides. Artificial food dyes and most additives are not allowed. For these reasons seasonal produce and foods fill up the majority of the food vendors’ booths.
The market’s slogan, which Kami came up with, is: “healthier people, healthier lifestyles, healthier communities.” Ruh says educating people about the importance of clean living is her primary business goal.
“On our social media pages, you’ll find education posts as well as delicious recipes that include how to swap out certain things for healthier options,” Ruh said.
Ruh is looking forward to re-branding her second business, which also has a presence at the market. Wild and Three, a wellness brand that sells products such as elderberry syrup, lotion bars, and paraben-free sunscreen, is about to become Rooted Wellness.
All of Ruh’s family members have a role to play on market days. Her husband, Eric, is mainly responsible for loading and unloading cars, designing print materials and providing Ruh with “emotional support during the moments of ups and downs.” Kami, who’s currently attending an out-of-state college, helps however she can when she’s home – sometimes by passing out fliers to potential customers. Ruh’s middle daughter, Taylor, age 15, helps with vendor parking, packing cars and watching her little sister, Nora. Ruh says that Nora’s biggest job is to simply be age five, and that her favorite thing to do on market days is to run and play in Martin Family Park – though she won’t be the littlest sister for long. Ruh and Eric are expecting their fourth daughter.
When asked about her plans, Ruh smiles and says, “Plans? There are many of those. Right now they seem like dreams and so far away, but you never know, they could come to life sooner than expected. I remind myself daily of our mission and work toward that.”