The Bailey Cove Farmers Market in Huntsville leads Alabama at the quarter-way mark in balloting for the America’s Farmers Market Celebration, a summer-long promotion that allows local-food fans to vote for their favorite direct-from-grower outlets.
The competition, sponsored by the American Farmland Trust and the Farmers Market Coalition, carries a $10,000 prize package for the top five vote-getters nationally. But the overall goal is to boost awareness and customer loyalty to all places where farmers and cooks connect.
“We believe that every farmers market in America is special in its own way,” Greg Plotkin, the farmland trust’s director of digital communications, says in a news release. “Big or small, in cities or rural towns, farmers markets nourish their communities while helping local farmers, food makers, and artisans thrive.”
One of great things about living in Alabama is our ready access to the freshest and best locally-raised vegetables, fruit, fungi, and meat. That’s what makes this state’s farmers markets special and nourishing. Many of the vendors you meet at the market also supply our state’s top farm-to-table restaurants and finished-food producers.
But you wouldn’t gauge that impact from the balloting so far in the America’s Farmer Market Celebration. We’re not showing enough love to our favorites from the Yellowhammer State.
Every Saturday in Birmingham, the Pepper Place market draws up to 10,000 people, who browse among tents where dozens of Alabama farmers, bakers, other food producers, and crafts people sell their wares. But the venerable Magic City popup has conjured a meager nine votes so far since the national contest began on June 20.
Bailey Cove, a Saturday market at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in The Rocket City, recently surged to its statewide lead, with 28 votes in the first three weeks of the contest. Other than Bailey Cove and Pepper Place, no other Alabama farmers market reaped more than two tallies.
That’s nowhere close to the overall leaders to that point: the Ligonier (Pennsylvania) Country Market with 1,362 votes, Lightfoot (Tennessee) Farm Market with 831, and Dublin, Georgia’s Market on Madison with 572.
We can do better.
Alabama has more than 120 farmers markets, from permanent set-ups like the Jefferson County Truck Grower’s Association state farmers market and the Tuscaloosa River Market, to one-day bazaars that are increasingly viewed as community amenities.
We need to show our support by voting (here’s where) for our favorite outlets in the America’s Farmers Market Celebration contest before it ends on September 19. If you go to more than one (I like Pepper Place and the nearby Birdsong Farmers Market), each deserves a nod.
Looking for a nearby market to try? Check out our picks here, as well as the databases maintained by the America’s Farmers Market Celebration or the Alabama Farmers Market Authority. If you like your new find, vote for it.
Even if your favorite food bazaar doesn’t wind up in the money, this contest still allows you to make your voice heard—but not talk with your mouth full.
Here are the Alabama farmers markets, listed by region, receiving votes as of July 12 in the national America’s Farmers Market Celebration contest:
- Bailey Cove Farmers Market, Huntsville
- Greene Street Market at Nativity, Huntsville
- Madison City Farmers Market, Madison
- Guntersville Farmers Market, Guntersville
- Gadsden Farmers Market, Gadsden
- Florence/Lauderdale County Farmers Market, Florence
- Athens Farmers Market, Athens
- The Market at Pepper Place, Birmingham
- Jefferson County Truck Growers Association, Birmingham
- Madison County Farmers Market, Huntsville
- East Chase Farmers Market, Montgomery
- Anniston Downtown Farmers Market, Anniston
- Montevallo Farmers Market, Montevallo
- Cherokee County Farmers Market, Centre
- Calera Farmers Market, Calera
- Ozark Farmers Market, Ozark
- Fairhope Outdoor Farm Market, Fairhope
- Market in the Park, Mobile
- Halls Mill Road Farmers Market, Mobile