Downtown Farmers’ Market

By on 16 May, 2011 in Farming, Food, Fun, Kate and Stephen with 1 Comment

It was raining. The new Downtown Farmers’ Market had said on their Facebook page that the rain was supposed to stop at 4, so folks should come on down, but by 5:30 it was still pouring. On the plus side, this meant that it was easy to park. Everyone was under a nice striped awning arranged in a horseshoe formation in the parking lot across from the Renaissance, at the corner of Commerce and Tallapoosa. Much had been made of Montgomery’s new Downtown Farmers’ Market, and we weren’t sure what to expect – especially for the inaugural offering on such a rainy Friday. But in Facebook we trust, so off we went to see about our local farmers.

We weren’t planning to stock up on veggies for the week. We get the Red Root Farm CSA, and we’re up to our eyeballs in fabulous dinosaur kale, carrots, and turnips right now, but somehow we knew we’d end up bringing home a little something. Which prophecy was immediately fulfilled when we found the first of the crop of Chilton County peaches at Knight’s Produce stand. The only decision we had to make here was whether to buy a half dozen or a whole. We decided six (for $3) would be fine. For the first week of the season. Next week we are thinking possible cobbler. The peaches are perfectly sweet without being maudlin, just on the edge of tart, and not at all grainy.

Next door we bought some basil grown at the Downtown Urban Farm. It was improbably large, if a little spendy ($3). In the summer we grow our own basil, but it hasn’t quite reached this level of abundance yet. Maybe because we don’t grow it in zoo manure with an irrigation system. Really, we just saw this stuff in the ground two weeks ago – how did it get so big so fast?

The rain was unstoppable. This seemed to cheer the farmers and worry the customers. Maybe this just shows how big the gap is between our modern industrialized way of living and our agrarian roots. Time after time, the customers standing in line expressed their regret about the rain. And every single time, the folks behind the tables said they were so thankful for the moisture. The folks from AA Farm (up in Millbrook) dished out praise for the rain along with samples of their delicious goat cheese.

It’s this cognitive gap — with average folks thinking of the rain as a bad thing, unaware of how long it has been since the last real nourishing downpour — that makes the farmers’ market so vital for our communities. Average folks can tell you what time their favorite TV shows come on, but have no real concept of the conditions that make it possible for food to grow. The farmers’ markets, even if only held once a week, can begin to close the chasm between the average person producing meals for themselves and their families and the mono-cultural agribusinesses that produce the food in most grocery stores.

According to the folks at Hampstead handling the press for the event, everyone at a booth was a producer rather than a re-seller. Things produced included local honeys (we bought some Garden District honey from the Merijanians at Dancing Bee Apiary – $5), a variety of preserves, and even pies (blueberry, from the ladies up at J&J Berry Farm, who say that their U-Pick program is going to start in a few weeks). There were also some young cucumbers, spring onions, and assorted greens.

Producers included:

  • Anne Randle – Auburn: Randle Farms and Hampstead Farms
  • Jetson Brown – Downtown, Hampstead Institute Downtown Farm
  • Randy Merijanian – Cloverdale and Hampstead locations, Dancing Bee Apiary (local honey)
  • Johnny & Jo-ann, J&J Berry Farm
  • Jean Higdon – Montgomery, Gigi’s Fabulous Foods (popular baked goods)
  • Joe and Patty Lambrecht – Wetumpka, Oakview Farms
  • Eric Adams, Adams Farms  – Millbrook, AL
  • Seth Knight, Knight’s Produce – Clanton, AL
  • AL Hooks, Hooks Produce – Macon County

Like the downtown farm, the market is sponsored by the City of Montgomery, the Hampstead Institute, and MAX Credit Union. Farmers don’t pay for their stalls. It’s supposed to run every Friday from 4-6 “during the growing season.” We’re not sure what that means exactly, but it’ll probably be around until at least the middle of June. Which is nice. It’s a great addition to downtown.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a dog, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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  1. Heather C says:

    That basil is gorgeous!! Glad to know that you were pleased. I hope to make it to the one next week! Also, don’t forget the Fairview farmers market!

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