Madison City Farmer’s Market opened last Saturday, kicking off this year’s Farmer’s Market Season. Other markets will be opening in May and June. If you want fresh produce, I encourage you to support your local growers by picking up those crops you don’t grow yourself direct from the farmer.
Here are a few tips to remember when shopping farmer’s markets:
- In Alabama, there is no sales tax on agricultural products purchased at Farmer’s Markets. That means you can save up to 10% on your purchase.
- If you qualify for SNAP benefits, many farmer’s markets accept SNAP and some even have programs to double your benefit dollars.
- Know whether you are shopping at a “producers only” market. That means all the foods are grown by the vendors selling them. If a market isn’t for producers only, some vendors may be reselling vegetables purchased through distribution, just like your local grocery store. If you aren’t sure, a good rule of thumb is to look for bananas — if you see bananas, they weren’t grown locally!
- Want the best selection? Get there early!
- What you’ll see for sale:
- Fresh produce! The selection available will be near the same season as your backyard garden. In late April and early May in our region that means fresh greens of all kinds, radishes, young carrots, beets, and snap peas. Some late fall vegetables that store well (winter squash and sweet potatoes) may also be available early in the season.
- Animal products, like honey, fresh eggs, cheese and cuts of meat.
- Some vendors may have greenhouse or hydroponic operations, and may have tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers very early.
- Preserved foods, like jams, jellies, pickles and relishes.
- In Alabama at a certified farmer’s market, there may be up to 30% non-food vendors, like artists and craftsmen.
Knowing exactly how your food was produced, and by whom, is the biggest luxury of shopping at a farmer’s market. All kinds of growing systems are represented by the farm vendors. If you want to be sure you select produce grow a certain way, like organically produced or non-GMO, ask the farm representative.
The State of Alabama Farmer’s Market Authority keeps updated listings of all the registered Farmer’s Markets in the State, as well as road-side stands, U-Pick operations and CSAs. Quick links to Farmer’s Markets in our nearby counties are below, with hours and locations:
- Listing of Madison County, Alabama Farmer’s Markets
- Listing of Limestone County, Alabama Farmer’s Markets
- Listing of Morgan County, Alabama Farmer’s Markets