Published 10:23 am Thursday, July 16, 2009
Atmore Farmers' Market offers wide variety of fruits, vegetables
By MaryClaire Foster
Lots of pickin’ goes on at the farmers' market in Atmore, whether its customers picking out fresh produce or the farmers themselves jesting with each other about whose watermelons are the sweetest.
Havard is at the market every other day selling a wide variety of fruits of vegetables he grows and last year spent 152 days there.
The Atmore Farmers' Market is one of 112 in the state that allows local growers to sell their crops directly to the public and while all markets are self governing, are given guidelines by the state Farmers' Market Authority.
According to Brooke Thorington, public information officer with the FMA, said the amount of farmers' markets has increased substantially in the past 10 years, an accomplishment she contributes to both the program director, Don Wambles, and the increasing popularity of “going green.”
Clark Thompson has been selling at the market for five years as a source of additional income and has increased his business since his usual welding work has dropped off.
Kenneth Taylor has been selling at the market for three years and said when he first started growing he would give his produce away, but increased operation costs as well as the ability to make a little more money encouraged him to begin selling.
More than just the extra income, Taylor said pure enjoyment keeps him at it.
Thorington said the appeal of farmers' markets to consumers is found in the quality of products as well as the idea of helping out one’s neighbor and forging a relationship with them.
Thorington added the nutritional benefit of locally grown produce is also higher.
Farmers' market shopper Marianne Eddins said those are the exact reasons she drives from Perdido to shop there.
Phyllis Piazza is also a weekly shopper at the market and revels in being able to support her local grower.
Havard said besides everyday shoppers, farmers' markets have been well supported thanks to the Farmers Market Nutrition Programs. The FMNPs offer senior citizens and nutritionally at risk women and children the opportunity to buy produce directly from the farmers through a voucher system.
Hazard said $6 vouchers are distributed annually by state agencies to qualifying persons in $30 booklets and are used like cash at the markets and the sellers can redeem them at financial institutions.
The Atmore Farmers' Market is open daily.