When the 2024 edition of the Birdsong Farmers Market begins January 13, Andrew Kesterson will pile his Belle Meadows Farms stand with just-picked baby carrots and leafy greens grown near Moundville, while other vendors offer exotic mushrooms grown in Tuscaloosa and handmade goods like Nepalese samosas and gourmet granola.
For food lovers, one of the many blessings of living in Alabama is something worth eating grows throughout the year. Normally, locally-grown produce is easily available at local farmers markets.
Pop-ups are plentiful during the spring, summer, and fall. But while a handful of farmers markets are open year-round, the few seasonal ones that linger past Thanksgiving take a well-earned break at year’s end.
Birdsong, which returns after a holiday hiatus, is the first to sprout this year. Two more – one in Birmingham and the other in Hoover – premiere on subsequent Saturdays in January.
Then that’s it until spring. The next batch opens when local strawberries are ready to harvest.
Here are places to find fresh-grown Alabama produce this winter.
Begins January 13
This modest farmer-operated Saturday market, located blocks from Pepper Place, starts 2024 with vendors selling fresh vegetables (Belle Meadow Farms and Mattie’s Garden), exotic mushrooms (Urban Forest), honey products (Boshell’s Bees), baked goods (Simply Johnson), and Nepalese snacks including samosas (Dalle Momo). Zero-waste soapery Easy Breezy Refillery and Cericola Granola also are scheduled.
Winter market hours are 9 a.m.-1 p.m. 2824 Fifth Avenue South, Birmingham (outside Automatic Seafood and Oyster restaurant).
Begins January 20
One of the state’s largest and best-known pop-up farmers markets is starting its 24th year of showcasing homegrown and homemade goods from small businesses. The winter market is a smaller version of the main event, with a limited number of farmers, food producers, and crafts makers. Check the market’s social media (the website was down in early January for an upgrade) for information on vendors slated for upcoming Saturdays. The regular season for The Market at Pepper Place starts in March.
Market hours are 7 a.m.-noon. 2829 Second Avenue South, Birmingham.
Begins January 27
Fresh off a successful first year, the self-styled “Little market that could” is starting early in 2024 with a limited winter market (the vendor roster expands by April and runs through November 16). Sellers with Alabama-grown and -made products, as well as food trucks, set up outside the Brock’s Gap Brewing Company. A Valentine’s-themed night market is set for Tuesday, February 6, from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Each week’s vendor list is posted on the website. Over the course of its inaugural year, Brock’s Gap market featured nearly a dozen farmers and fishers, nearly two-dozen food producers, a dozen food trucks, and some 40 crafts-makers.
Winter market hours are 8 a.m.-noon. 500 Mineral Trace, Hoover.
These markets operate year-round:
Open Saturdays, 7 a.m.-noon, the market draws dozens of farmers, food-product makers, and artisans to a 5,600-square-foot enclosed space overlooking the Black Warrior River. Vendors at the state-certified market include chef-favorite farms Snow’s Bend and Belle Meadow. In 2022 and 2023, patrons voted the market as No. 1 in the state in a contest sponsored by America’s Farmland Trust.
The sprawling complex of stalls was opened in 1956 by the Jefferson County Truck Growers Association to provide a sales outlet for local farmers. It’s been a stop for multiple generations of home and restaurant cooks. Open 24 hours and all 365 days, most farmers set up some time between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m.
344 Finley Avenue West, Birmingham.
Find vegetables and fruit grown in Baldwin County, Gulf seafood, organically-raised beef, and prepared foods in the covered facility. It is open Saturdays 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Situated on 30 acres, the market is located off Miflin Road near Wolf Bay Lodge restaurant.
781 Farmers Market Lane, Foley
The family-owned market in Opelika buys from farmers in Alabama, Georgia (it has a sister market there in LaGrange), and elsewhere in the southeast. It is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
2180 First Avenue, Opelika
The oldest continuously-operating farmer-to-consumer market in the state capital was established in 1927 and has been in its current site since 1947. It draws nearly three dozen vendors selling vegetables, fruit, meat, prepared food, plants, and craft goods. Open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, from 5 a.m.-2 p.m.
1004 Madison Avenue, Montgomery