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May 27, 2015

By Debra Davis

Wendy Patton of Enterprise, right, buys fresh produce from Cherin Shaw of Backwood Gardens at the new Enterprise Farmers Market Tuesday.

The fresh taste of summer is available at farmers markets and roadside stands throughout the state, allowing hungry consumers to savor the flavor of Alabama agriculture.

“There’s nothing fresher or better than buying fruits and vegetables straight from the farmers who grew them,” said the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Mac Higginbotham. “Farmers are excited to bring their bounty right to the person who is going to buy it and prepare it for their family. Consumers discover fresh food really does make a difference in the quality and taste of what they’re eating.”

Market season in Alabama typically begins in the southern part of the state around early May and moves north with the onset of summer. Local farmers markets and roadside stands help boost local economies, said Higginbotham, who is the Federation’s Horticulture Division director.

“Going to the farmers market has become a fun outing for many families,” Higginbotham said. “Some offer live music, cooking demonstrations and even children’s activities. This boosts tourism income, and shoppers also spend money locally buying ingredients and supplies to prepare their fresh produce.”

When families buy direct from farmers they also can be confident they’re getting healthy, wholesome products, Higginbotham said.

“Buying food from the farmers who grow it gives consumers an opportunity to put a face with the food they eat,” he said. “Knowing where food comes from and how it’s grown allows shoppers to get to know farmers who are concerned about food safety and the environment. These farmers also eat the food they grow, and most of them live on the farms where the food is grown.”

In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, many markets offer herbs, honey, fresh eggs, jam, jellies, relishes, sauces, syrup, flowers, plants, shrubs, decorative items, handmade crafts, cornmeal, grits and baked goods.

For a list of farmers markets and roadside stands in Alabama, visit the Alabama Farmers Market Authority.

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