A Farmers Market Chrismas

By on 19 December, 2011 in City Living, Food, Holidays, Kate and Stephen, Shopping with 3 Comments

It’s been a while since the farmer’s market out on Coliseum closed down for regular business. You know the place — out there by Garrett Coliseum, out where they have the state fair.

To be honest, we never really went out there anyway. We get a great CSA from Red Root Farms, and it was always way too far for us to think about driving that distance to merely supplement the inevitable grocery store purchasing. However, this past Saturday we made a special trip because we’d heard they were having a special market for Christmas. And Santa was going to be there! On a tractor! Plus, we still had a good bit of Christmas shopping to do, including picking up some local foods to give to our out-of-state friends and a dessert for our big family dinner.

The giant cows that guard the entrance to the Farmers Market had been transformed for the holiday, with red noses and antlers added for extra festivity. The outside stalls were full of gourds, and squash, and more gourds and some of the absolute biggest wreaths we’d ever seen. Inside was what seemed like acres of poinsettias, huge bags of pre-cracked pecans or scoop-your-own trays where you could pick the variety. We gathered a good number of pecans out of our yard this year, but the ones on display here made ours seem pitifully small by comparison. Although there were plenty of beautiful collards and sweet potatoes and other produce on display, we’re fixing to make a big road trip for Christmas, so we passed on the veggies and headed straight into the craft foods and gift area.

We were tempted by so much – Alabama ciders in a half-dozen flavors, delicious muscadine juice, sweet potato pound cake, lemon cakes that were so dense they seemed to bend the light around them, homemade bird houses repping the football team of your choice and more pecan goodies than seemed imaginable. In the end, we settled on some delicately decorated and impossibly delicious sugar figure cookies for dessert.

We were delighted to find local business Homestead Candles, pouring amazing-smelling and affordable candles with soy wax. They don’t have a storefront, but their Facebook page tells where they’ll be selling their wares next – well worth it. We employed a classic “one for us, one for a friend” buying strategy here.

Our stylish cousin got a cool ring from a man selling jewelry made from antique spoon handles. He makes bracelets, keychains and other items out of old spoon handles, even attaching a tag to each one that says the date and silver pattern of the spoon. For a rambunctious young man in our life, we purchased a gun that shoots marshmallows when you blow into one end of it. It is very cool, and its middle school-age maker was on hand to describe its PVC pipe construction and proper use. He even threw in a bag of marshmallows! For our New Mexico foodie, we got some classically Alabama scuppernong jam – can’t find that out in Albuquerque. She’s got Mississippi roots, so I think she will appreciate it.

All, in all, it was a festive event, with people of all ages shopping and a diverse group of merchants in the stalls. The products spanned the price range and seemed to be almost universally local. We hope that all of them found it a productive atmosphere for selling their wares, especially in an economy that is unforgiving. We certainly did our share to help out.

We hope that this sort of event will be more frequent and well publicized. Places like farmers markets and curb markets represent some of the oldest social centers for commerce — often punished by big box retailers with unspeakable advertising budgets and the power to brand their mass produced items. Markets and bazaars bring the chance to get unique gifts made by craftspeople and artisans, and hopefully the forces that arrange such things will work to promote them and let folks know of the diverse opportunities to get outside the mainstream superhighway of merchants and merchandise.

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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There Are 3 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Jay Croft says:

    Cider? Really? You’re not kidding?

    I thought it was illegal in Alabama, or something. Sure, there is supermarket cider but it’s pasteurized and has too long a shelf life.

    The second year after we moved to Alabama our younger daughter flew in with a gallon of genuine farm-pressed cider in her backpack! (This was before 9/11).

  2. admin says:

    Jay, we didn’t look too closely, so we’re not sure.

  3. Jay Croft says:

    Understand, Admin, that we are New Englanders and gotta have our cider each fall!

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