Downtown Curb Market

By on 16 June, 2014 in Food, Government, Kate and Stephen, Shopping with 3 Comments

It’s city-owned. It just got a face lift. And it’s full of delicious things to eat.

Strangely, although we had heard a lot about (and even posted blog posts about) Montgomery’s curb market (1004 Madison Ave., next to Cramton Bowl), we had never been.

That changed on Saturday, when we decided to make a post-lunch journey to the 1947 building that houses the market. We didn’t know much about the approximately 30 members that comprise the cooperative, but we knew we wanted some locally-grown produce — maybe some tomatoes, maybe a watermelon.

The first thing we learned? We needed to get to the market before 1 p.m. When we arrived, most of the merchants were packing up. We knew the official hours of the market suggested that it would close at 2, but it became immediately apparent that the main action happens in the morning hours. For future reference, it’s open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 5 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Still, it wasn’t a total loss. There were enough merchants there that we still ended up spending about $20 or so, taking home a satisfying haul for a Saturday afternoon. And even if the place had been empty, it’s worth checking out the old building, which suggest the years right after WWII, a glimpse into our city’s history.

Nobody needs to be reminded that locally-grown produce is superior to what is sold in the refrigerated cases of the big chain grocery stores. Some simple facts are beyond obvious. But it is worth noting that customers value what they’re buying a bit more when they can connect the purchase to some kind of story. The peaches emerged from nearby soil, picked from a tree by someone you can meet. The chunky soup in the sealed Mason jar is the product of an ancient family recipe, not some focus-group tested chemical from a factory. The watermelon was selected by the weathered hand you shake at the end of the transaction.

We ended up purchasing a few key items for the week to come.

1. Fruit. We got Chilton County peaches and some nectarines. The peaches were great texture-wise, but still missing a little sweetness. Even so, but we were happy to see them in the market after this year’s big frosts. They’ll be great for fruit salads, pies or cobblers. The nectarines weren’t ready just yet, but we hope to be able to give a favorable report later this week.

2. Eggs. Hooray for farm-fresh eggs, these from chickens not kept in cages. We’re looking forward to making these part of our daily routine – few better ways to start the morning than a fresh egg fried in a little salted butter over crusty toast.

3. Beets. Sure, if you get the juice on your clothes you will never, ever, ever get it out. But they’re delicious roasted in the oven with a little olive oil and tossed with salt and pepper.

4. Soap. Yep, soap. We needed some and were bewitched by the array of smells offered by The Lavender Pig. We bought two bars for a reasonable price and will likely be back for more locally sourced lotions and bath salts.

We know, it’s ridiculous that this was our first time – in our defense, we’ve been swimming in CSAs for years, and are only recently reaching out into the world for produce after having bags of it every week. But we found ourselves impressed with the market and wanting to come more often – we hear Thursday mornings are the best time to come.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, ten fish, 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:

    What’s a CSA?

  2. Sasha says:

    Great article! Thanks. I came across it doing a little family research. My grandparents, H.C. and Harriet Milam, both had stalls at the market all through the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Granddaddy was a farmer selling produce and my grandmother made a name for herself selling baked goods. She made 800lbs a season of homemade fruitcake!

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