May 09, 2017
Less than 24 hours after Taylor Boozer Hatchett picks ripe, ruby red strawberries from her Chilton County family farm, little boys, moms and grandparents are savoring the sweet arrival of spring — and farmers market season. Farmers markets like the ones Hatchett frequents are open for business and ready to provide consumers fresh, local fruits and vegetables.
“I really love the direct sales, when you’re selling to the end customer,” said Hatchett, who grows various produce, including tomatoes, peaches and strawberries at Boozer Farms in Thorsby. “You get to share with them how their food was grown or answer questions about your farming practices. You can help educate consumers on where their food is coming from.”
The Alabama Farmers Federation’s Mac Higginbotham said most farmers markets open in late April or early May and offer seasonal specialties through fall.
“When you buy produce from a farmers market in Alabama, you can have confidence in the product you’re purchasing,” said Higginbotham, the Federation’s Horticulture Division director. “Not only are you receiving a fresh, high-quality product to feed your family, you’re also helping support the local community and contributing to environmental sustainability.”
Hatchett said the profit she makes selling produce at farmers markets are reinvested directly into the community.
“A lot of the money we make on the farm we spend locally through our feed and seed stores or other vendors and suppliers,” she said. “We are also hiring local people to work at the farm, so this helps support the community.”
Hatchett encourages community members to explore new farmers markets as each market has a unique atmosphere and variety of products.
Some markets encourage consumers to shop by offering special events, such as Free Hotdog Day, which took place at the end of April at the Lawrence County Farmers Market in Moulton. This market opened April 15, and sells goods Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays during the summer. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, the market sells jams, jellies and garden plants.
Boozer Farms sells produce at various markets in central and east Alabama. They also have an on-farm store and participate in community-supported agriculture, where members receive fresh produce baskets weekly for helping support the farm financially.
The Marketplace at Lee Branch opened for the season April 22 and pleases palates Saturdays until Aug. 26. The Market at Ag Heritage Park opens May 11 and amuses appetites Thursdays until Aug. 24. The Helena Farmers Market and Calera Farmers Market both open June 3 and connect communities every Saturday in the summer.
For more information and to find markets in your county, visit buylocalalabama.org.