My favorite season: Farmers Market season! Forget just looking forward to summer; instead, look forward to that beautiful, bountiful season that bridges the year from spring to fall. Follow me to the farmers market, and here in the Birmingham area, you’ll find so many opportunities to support local farmers and to broaden your choices for fresh veggies and fruits. But first, let’s start with some tips for making the most of your market time.
- Go early. The temperatures are cooler (for those Saturday morning markets), the crowds are smaller, and the selections will be plentiful. A slow Saturday that begins with coffee and a stroll around the market as it opens is my favorite.
- Take your own bags. We love those little mesh produce bags that we have been using at the grocery store. They also work great in the market, keeping some extra plastic bags out of circulation.
- Bring cash and smaller bills. Yes, Square is easy but eliminating that credit card processing fee to the farmer is another way to support their success.
- Try something new. We have developed an admiration for Swiss chard that I would not have predicted, and we cannot seem to eat enough yellow tomatoes. And ask the farmers what they recommend — if they grow it, generally speaking, they like to eat it and can tell you why.
CSA: variety without the market visit
If you can’t make it to the market but want to support local farms, you might consider Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which is a program where consumers buy shares of a farm’s harvest in advance. They offer different levels of membership, generally based on the number of weeks you want and what types of items you like. You pay in advance, and each week you have a designated pick up spot. We have loved the variety delivered directly to us, generally at a cost of about $20 per week. Plus, the weekly newsletter sent by the CSA gives wonderful recipe options, and you can join a private Facebook group for sharing your creations.
Your market shopping list
Here are some of the local markets and CSAs that have easy-to-find information on the web. You can find more exhaustive listings at localharvest.org.
Local Farmers Markets
Alabama Farmers Market, Daily (the OG of markets open year round)
West Homewood Farmers Market, Tuesdays from 5 pm to 8 pm
Vestavia Hills Farmers Market, Wednesdays from 10 am to 1 pm
Preserve Farmers Market, Thursdays from 4 pm to 7 pm
Ross Bridge Farmers Market, Fridays from 4 pm to 8 pm
The Marketplace at Lee Branch, Saturdays from 7:30 am to noon
Birdsong Farmers Market, Saturdays from 7 am to noon
East Lake Market, Saturdays from 8 am to noon
The Market at Pepper Place, Saturdays from 7 am to noon
Mountain Sun Farm (our current CSA membership — farm is owned by a dear friend’s daughter and her husband)
Snow’s Bend Farm (previous CSA — we loved the option to choose our veggies at Pepper Place)
Stone Hollow Farmstead
Happy shopping in Birmingham’s best season!