September 24, 2021

These delivery services connect Alabama consumers with local farmers

3 min read

Home cooks in central Alabama have a new way to get locally-raised farm-fresh produce, meat, and baked goods delivered directly to their door.

This month, Market Wagon, an online service that operates in 17 states, expanded its territory to include 10 counties in and near metro Birmingham. It’s one-stop shopping; customers can order from a half-dozen farms and producers from Tallassee to Cullman, and from Flat Rock to Sylacauga.

“This business is all about giving consumers more ways and easier access to buy local—and giving farmers and food producers more ways to reach them,” said Nick Carter, who co-founded Market Wagon in Indiana in 2016, in a news release.

Market Wagon joins another farm-to-front-door online delivery service, Till, which is operated by a couple from Vestavia Hills, Will and Hayley DeShazo. Till has operated since 2019 and currently sells products from more than two-dozen area farms and producers.

(Till/Facebook)

The Birmingham area has a vibrant array of pop-up farmers markets, but most don’t open until the spring, and the majority shut down about when the school year starts. Online services like Market Wagon and Till provide easy access to locally grown produce and meats year-round.

Here’s how they work: Their websites list what’s available from each producer, package sizes, and price. Order online by the deadline (orders close for Market Wagon on Sundays at midnight; Till’s ordering window is from Sunday at 2 p.m. until Wednesday at 5 p.m.). Both pack the food in an insulated bag, with ice packs to help keep it cool.

Market Wagon will deliver for a $5.95 fee. No subscription or minimum order is required. Delivery is on Tuesday afternoons in Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Cullman, Jefferson, St. Clair, Shelby, Talladega, Tuscaloosa and Walker counties.

Till, which charges a $4.99 delivery fee, drops off its orders between 8 a.m. and noon on Saturdays to a dozen zip codes, mostly in Birmingham’s southside and in over-the-mountain suburbs of Homewood, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills and Hoover.

Market Wagon is working with several farms and producers including:

  • Central City Urban Farm in Birmingham, which raises vegetables and herbs hydroponically
  • Blue Ribbon Dairy in Tallassee, which sells pasteurized whole and chocolate milk from a fourth-generation dairy farmer
  • Heritage Hills Farmstead in Cullman, a meat farm raising beef, chicken, and pork nourished by a combination of forage and feed
  • Wright Dairy cheese in Alexandria
  • Lake Majestik Farms near Flat Rock in northeast Alabama, which sells pasture-raised beef
  • Tamale Queen in Fultondale, known for her handmade tamales

The more-established Till service offers baked goods, beef, pork, poultry, seafood, vegetables, eggs, dairy including cheese, salad greens, herbs, meal kits, and pantry items including preserves and Higher Ground coffees. Its producers include Southern Organics, Owl’s Hollow Farm, and Ireland Farms.

Online links to growers help consumers support local farmers and artisans without having to worry about the weather on traditional market days, or whether they’re in town that weekend.

It increases options for people who are concerned about how their meal got from the ground to the dinner plate—who grew it, how it was raised, and how much pollution it generated on the way. And farm-to-consumer sales create new opportunities for small, often family-run farms, which need several revenue streams to survive.

“By bringing the same products you’d expect at a local farmers market into an online shop, we are increasing the market for local farms and artisans,” Market Wagon’s Carter says. And ultimately it’s those vendors that win.”

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Subscribe to the newsletter

The inside scoop straight to your inbox.